Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory

February 23, 2024

Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending the iconic Cheltenham Festival, you’ll know it’s exciting but also a long and tiring day. My festival advice for first time attendees is to always wear comfy shoes, warm layers and have a really good breakfast.

For me it’s got to be an egg-based breakfast and my favourite by far is ‘Eggs in Purgatory’ – a real breakfast of champions and a classic Italian breakfast dish. As ever with me it’s incredibly simple, consisting of eggs gently poached on top of a spicy, garlic, tomato sauce with a little grated parmesan on top and some fancy bread on the side. It’s a warm, tasty start to the day and requires little effort and makes little mess. My favourite kind of cooking!

Eggs in purgatory is ‘Uovo Al Purgatorio’ in Italian – the eggs seemingly symbolising souls in purgatory (the bit before hell) and the tomatoes are hell simmering beneath them. Wonderful, but I can assure you there’s nothing hellish about this dish.


  • 3 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot finely chopped and ¼ of a garlic clove a finely chopped
  • ½ tsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 can of tinned cherry tomatoes (I always use tinned cherry tomatoes as they give a much better flavour)
  • 4 large eggs
  • fresh basil
  • parmesan
  • salt
  • sliced bread
  • ¼ cube of chicken stock
  • tomato puree 


  • Add the olive oil to a large pan followed by the onion, garlic and chilli flakes
  • Cook on a medium low heat for about 10 minutes to soften the onion – be careful not to burn the onion
  • Add the tinned cherry tomatoes, gently squashing down them down with the back of a wooden spoon until they pop open
  • Give the pan a good stir along with a few cracks of salt
  • Bring to tomatoes to a simmer then cover the pan
  • Put your chicken stock in a cup and cover it in no more than 1.5cm of boiling water from the kettle. Give it a good stir until it melts into the water
  • Add your chicken stock to the pan along with 3 squeezes of the tomato puree, stirring well
  • Tear your basil into bits and stir into your sauce 
  • Cover the pan and leave for another five minutes stirring well intermittently
  • Now to poach the eggs….. using the back of a wooden spoon make four little wells in your sauce making sure they’re wide enough to hold an egg
  • Crack your eggs into each of your wells and drop a little salt on each, then cover and leave to simmer over a medium low heat for about 2-3 minutes so the white has set but the yolk is still runny
  • Serve and enjoy with your bread