It might have a funny name, but this traditional Wisconsin booyah recipe is a scaled down version of the original, made with chicken and beef. It’s hearty, filling and perfect for a small crowd. Serve it with oyster crackers for an authentic experience. Makes about 8 quarts.
I’m super excited about this booyah recipe. It’s third recipe in my new Supper Clubs series, in which I’m sharing traditional Wisconsin recipes without dairy. Eventually I’ll get to cheese curds, but for now, this naturally dairy free booyah will keep your warm for the rest of the long, frozen-tundra winter.
What is traditional Wisconsin booyah?
It’s a slow-cooked – not in an actual slow cooker, but actually cooked slowly – meat and vegetable soup that’s usually made in a large vat, over an open fire. Booyah is especially common around the Green Bay area, where it’s served at church picnics, backyard parties and school fundraisers. There are a few other areas in the Midwest that make it, but it’s not even that common in different regions in Wisconsin.
From what I can tell from my internet research (that’s also backed up by my knowledge of the region), booyah seems to come from Belgian origins. I may also have gotten its name from the Flemish word for bouillon, but the jury’s out on that fact because there just isn’t enough information out there.
Either way, this is not a quick and easy recipe. It’s healthy. It’s delicious, but booyah is definitely a labor of love.
What’s in booyah, anyway?
Normally booyah is made with several types of meat. Chicken and beef are the most common, but there are definitely variations using pork and other cuts of meat. I decided to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and beef stew meat. I got a ton of flavor from the darker, tougher meats, but I skipped the de-boning and chopping steps. You can easily make this with only chicken, or only beef, just double the amount of one and omit the other.
There are a ton of vegetables in traditional booyah. From a mirepoix to frozen corn and peas, there are all sorts of variations out there, but I think the one ingredient that helps give booyah it’s distinctive flavor is cabbage. To cut down on prep time, I only chopped the onion, carrot and celery. I even used coleslaw mix for my cabbage and saved a ton of time.
Here’s what you’ll need to make booyah:
Extra notes here for what else might be helpful. Plastic containers for storing/freezing.
How do you make booyah?
Normally, booyah is made in giant vats over an outdoor fire, but that’s a little unrealistic for us. So we’re doing it on the stovetop in a large stockpot. To make this recipe, you will need at least an 8-quart pot, and even that will be pretty full. I would even recommend a 10-quart stockpot, if you have the option. If you don’t have a pot this large, you could cut the recipe in half, just to be safe.
Brown the meat. Heat your pot to medium-high. Add the olive oil, both of your booyah meats, and onion. Brown the meat as well as you can. The pot will be crowded, so don’t worry if you miss some spots.
Simmer the meat. Add salt & pepper with 4 cups of water to the pot. Put the cover on and bring it to a boil (high heat). Reduce the heat to low and simmer, for 2 hours. Don’t remove the cover, and don’t bother stirring it.
It will do all the work itself. When you stir the booyah after two hours of simmering, the meat should easily shred and break up on it’s own. If you need to give it a little help, now is the time to do it.
Simmer a little longer. After two hours, remove the cover and add the remaining ingredients. Put the cover back on and simmer for another 2 hours.
Serve with oyster crackers. Remove the bay leaves and serve the soup with oyster crackers.
Traditional Wisconsin Booyah
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: about 8 quarts
A traditional Wisconsin soup with a funny name, this classic booyah recipe is a scaled down version of the original, made with chicken and beef. Serve with oyster crackers for an authentic experience. #Wisconsin #soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 heaping tablespoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
- 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
- 2 – 2 1/2 pounds chopped potatoes
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups frozen cut green beans
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- Oyster crackers, for serving
- In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat olive oil to medium-high. Add chicken, stew meat, and onion. Let the meat brown, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper and water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- Cover the pot and reduce heat. Simmer for two hours. Break up/shred meat, if needed.
- Add celery, carrots, potato, cabbage, tomatoes, frozen vegetables, bay leaves, additional water, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce
- Cover pot and simmer for an additional two hours.
- Remove bay leaves before serving with oyster crackers.
*If you’re prefer to make this recipe with only one type of meat, feel free to double your choice and omit the other meat.