eggs in purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs are poached in a spicy, rustic tomato soup and served with fresh basil and toast.

I’m not the only blogger that thinks that about 2/3s of dishes can be easily improved by adding an egg of some sort. Soup is no exception. This dish is classically called eggs in purgatory and there are a lot of different variations on it. Almost always a tomato broth is used to cook the eggs in but sometimes the eggs are scrambled.

I used a spicy, kinda rustic tomato soup for my version and went with a poached egg. This was a really healthy dinner and Betsy and I loved it.

I found this recipe in a Body and Soul magazine actually. But I couldn’t find it again when I was trying to look it up to write this post. I made some changes to the original anyway though.

eggs in purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs are poached in a spicy, rustic tomato soup and served with fresh basil and toast.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Dishes, Soups
Servings 2 Servings
Yield 2-4 Bowls


  • 1 28 ounce can of tomatoes I used fire roasted, but you can use your favorite
  • 4 large fresh eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1-2 Teaspoons red pepper flakes depending on how hot you want it
  • 1 Cup water or stock of your choice
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh basil chiffonade
  • 4 thick slices toast
  • Salt and pepper


  • Prep all your ingredients before starting. Chiffonade your basil for later.
  • To start the soup, add oil to a large sauce pan and add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat until they are fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, water, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Toast the bread in a 400 degree oven.
  • Crack each egg individually in a bowl and gently slide each egg into the tomato soup mixture. Make sure your soup is just lightly simmering and not boiling when you do this.
  • Cook eggs for about 3 minutes for runny yolks.
  • Serve each piece of toast with an egg and a ladle full of tomato soup. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately.


Adapted from a Body and Soul recipe.


Serving: 1BowlCalories: 581kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 22gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 328mgSodium: 946mgPotassium: 1421mgFiber: 9gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 1656IUVitamin C: 39mgCalcium: 253mgIron: 9mg
Keyword Eggs, Eggs in Purgatory, Eggs in Tomato Soup, Poached Eggs, Tomato Soup

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Preparing Everything

The only thing that’s somewhat important about this recipe is to make sure you get everything prepped before you start cooking. Once you start cooking, the dish comes together really quickly.

To start, chiffonade your basil. Don’t worry. It’s sounds fancy but it’s actually just the most efficient way to cut basil or any leafed thing really. Just stack up your leaves on top of each other and then roll them up tightly.

basil rolled
This is how you do it.

Then slice the leaves very thin and you’ll end up with these great strips of basil. It’s perfect to finish off a dish like this.

It’s called a chiffonade.

Set aside your basil for later and slice a few thick pieces of bread. I’m a fan of using no knead bread for this because it produces a really thick and crusty toast that holds up great against the soup. If you used crappy store bought white bread, you’d end up with soggy little bits in your soup.

bread sliced
Good bread is very important to this dish.

Also, peel and slice very thinly your garlic and measure out your red pepper flakes. You could use up to 2 Teaspoons of red pepper flakes or mix in some cayenne if you want the soup to really pack a punch. I used about 1 teaspoon I think and it was a good amount of heat.

garlic and pepper flakes
Just some more prep.

Also, if your tomatoes aren’t crushed already, add them all to a bowl and crush them up with your hands.

mushing tomatoes
Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

Starting the soup

To start the soup, add your oil to a large sauce pan and add your garlic and pepper flakes. Fry these for a few minutes over medium-high heat until they become really fragrant and the garlic will start to turn lightly brown. Be careful not to burn!

You’re looking for something like this:

garlic and pepper cooking
Watch this closely.

Then add all your crushed tomatoes, the water, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Give this all a start and bring it to a simmer. Be sure to actually taste the soup to make sure the salt and pepper levels are good to go.

Now would be the perfect time to start the toast for this dish. Just add your bread slices to a 400 degree oven and let them toast for about 10-15 minutes. You want them to be really crispy.

Poaching the eggs

Cooking the eggs is about as easy as it gets. The only tip I have is to not get fancy and try cracking the eggs straight into the soup. That’ll lead to disaster almost certainly. Instead, crack all your eggs into bowls and gently slide them into the soup one by one. You can cook all the eggs at the same time, just spread them out over the soup.

The only other tip is to make sure your soup isn’t at a rolling boil. That would just break up the eggs. A light simmer is what you’re looking for.

Ready for a dip.

These will need to cook for 3 minutes for perfectly cooked poached eggs (runny on the inside).

Meanwhile, take your toast out and make sure it’s nice and crusty.

toast ready
Toast ready

Putting Everything Together

You have two options to serve this dish. Either you can just serve the bread on the side or you can actually add it to the bottom of your bowl! If you want to add it to the bottom like I did, it’s really important that you have crusty toast (have I mentioned that enough times yet?) or else you’ll have a big soggy mess at the bottom of your bowl.

Also, if you serve the toast under the soup, you’ll want to eat it as soon as possible. In any event, once your egg is done, take it out of the soup with a spoon and add it to your toast.

egg added
Looking good.

Then ladle your tomatoes over the eggs and add a pinch of basil to the top. This is good stuff.

soup added
A great dish.

Start to finish this dish takes maybe 30 minutes. It’s really fast, healthy and tasty. Betsy and I ate it as dinner, but you could serve it for four people as an appetizer course (one egg per person).

I loved this dish and it’s on the make-again-soon list for me.

19 Responses to “Eggs in Purgatory” Leave a comment

  1. The Husband and I make this fairly often, though we add a whole chopped onion to add a little more flavor to the sauce. Maybe that's why ours looks thicker than yours…

    I got our recipe from CHOW:

    I think we use as much tomato as you do, and olive oil instead of butter, like you do. We scramble the eggs in (I don't like runny yolks). And we add mozzarella on top.

    You really should try it with mozzarella. Cheese makes everything better.

  2. This reminds me of pappa al pomodoro, a Tuscan favorite! Eggs truly do make everything better. Will be trying this soon. Thanks.

  3. That's so funny — this is precisely what I was going to make for dinner on this gross, rainy, tired-all-day Monday, too! What's that thing they always say about great minds?

  4. I have seen this and I am looking forward to trying it. I love the idea of using other poaching liquids than water. Great looking dish, Nick.

  5. This looks delicious!

    Don’t you just hate it when you can’t find a recipe you know the pedigree of on the website it should belong to? I have so many recipes written down or sitting in a box of clippings from my preblogging days and when I go to look for them online, they just aren’t there! It sucks!

      1. I'd like to mention something that might be relevant to others. I like my eggs a little more set but still gell-y. I cooked them to that point, and then added them to the bowl. The eggs were covered with the sauce. It was too hot to eat immediately, so I let it cool for a few minutes before I tucked into it. Of course, the egg yolks were firm by that point. Greatly enjoyed the dish! Thanks!

  6. I made this for myself and a friend tonight! Because there were only two of us, we just did two eggs, but it turned out phenomenal. Next time I might cut it down to two tablespoons of olive oil though–there was a bit of oil clinging to the pan when we were done. We used a really crusty Jewish rye bread from Whole Foods, because I didn't have time to make any of my own, and the flavors in the rye were amazing with the dish. It also worked out well, oddly because my stove is a bit uneven and one egg set, but the other kept a runny yolk…my friend got that one. It was delicious, and I'm going to make it for my boyfriend this week!

    Thanks, Nick!

  7. AS a kid my mother would put scrambled eggs in tomato soup,who knew it was a quick version of something much better. wOw

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