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(Flemish chicken soup)

Waterzooie or Waterzootsje--originating in Flanders--is one of the great national soups of the world. Belgians are pretty loose with the ingredients, though. Not only does every family have its own recipe that varies eggs, cream, and lemon--but some use fish instead of chicken. In fact, Escoffier himself captured the recipe as a fish and wine soup. Apparently wine is the ONLY ingredient all these variations have in common--and even then I have heard of variations that recommend dark Belgian beer instead of wine. This particular recipe, however, is made for the hearts and stomachs of poultry lovers--it is chicken times a thousand, and wonderfully silky and rich to boot. And just exactly what does Waterzooie mean? I hunted for weeks to find out. It translates to "a simmering, watery thing." In other words, eggs and cream notwithstanding, the broth should not be too thick. Serve hot as a meal to 8 people--ideally with boiled potatoes, brown bread, and butter on the side.

Garnish: 1 lemon, sliced into 8 paperthin slices, 2 Tablespoons minced parsley

Rub the chicken pieces with butter, then broil, 4-5 inches away from the heat, for 20 minutes, turning often. When lightly browned, put in a kettle with the giblets, and all the rest of the ingredients except for the lemon juice, egg yolks and cream. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or more (less for fryers), until the chicken is tender.

Remove chicken and giblets from the broth and cool.

Strain the broth and skim off the fat. (If you're not serving the soup immediately, you could put the broth in the freezer to make the skimming easier.) Return broth to kettle and stir in the lemon juice.

When ready to serve, cut the chicken in big chunks and mince the giblets. Throw out the bones and skin. Bring the broth to a simmer, then scrape in the chicken and giblets and return to kettle. Heat through, covered, for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, beat the eggs and cream together, then beat a cup of the simmering broth into the egg cream and whisk the whole mixture back into the kettle. Simmer at very low heat (lest it curdle!) for 2-3 minutes. Ladle into deep souplates then float a thin lemon slice, sprinkled with parsley, in each one.