Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory

A deliciously different idea for brunch. Great for a late night treat after an evening out, too!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Eggs in Purgatory - Eggs poached in a quickly made tomato, garlic, and basil sauce. Perfect supper for one or late night indulgence. https://www.lanascooking.com/eggs-in-purgatory/

Eggs in Purgatory – Eggs poached in a quickly made tomato, garlic, and basil sauce. Perfect supper for one or late night indulgence.

Not long ago, I found myself home alone at supper time, a very rare occurrence. BeeBop was out of town on a business trip and I’d had a very busy day so I didn’t really want to cook anything too complicated. I just wanted something good and quick, easy and tasty.

Eggs in Purgatory - Eggs poached in a quickly made tomato, garlic, and basil sauce. Perfect supper for one or late night indulgence. https://www.lanascooking.com/eggs-in-purgatory/

Eggs in Purgatory is a classic recipe that, for some reason, I had never gotten around to trying. I’ve read about it. I’ve seen other cooks make it. And I’ve drooled over the thought of it.

So, what did I do? I used my evening alone to try something new in the kitchen! From the time I took the skillet out of the cabinet until I sat down to enjoy my dinner was no more than 20 minutes. I’d call that quick and easy!

I did a little research on the history of Eggs in Purgatory and like so many classic recipes, the actual origin of it is quite unknown. Because of its reference to Purgatory, it’s assumed to be associated with the Catholic faith, the eggs representing “souls” and the fiery tomato sauce surrounding them representing their suspension between Heaven and Hell. Sounds plausible to me, but then I’m not Catholic.

It’s also entirely believable that Eggs in Purgatory is likely based on an older dish from North Africa called shakshouka. Then again, it’s a whole lot like huevos rancheros from Mexico. No matter where it originated, it’s just an incredibly delicious and satisfying recipe.

I hope you’ll give this one a try and let me know how you liked it. Remember, you can adjust the red pepper flakes according to your own taste. If you like yours really hot, use a lot. If you lean more to the milder side, use a lot less :-) Oh, and don’t forget plenty of garlic bread or toast for dunking!

How to Make Eggs in Purgatory

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Photo collage showing the steps for making the tomato sauce.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes being careful not to let the garlic brown.

Pour in the tomatoes with their juice and break them up with a spoon or potato masher. Add most of the basil, reserving just a bit for garnish, and simmer the mixture for a few minutes or until the liquid has cooked down somewhat (usually takes 8-10 minutes for me).

Photo collage that shows eggs being added to tomato sauce, seasonings added, and eggs cooked with lid on pan.

Crack each egg into a small bowl and carefully slip them into the pan on top of the simmering sauce. (Note: be sure the sauce is just simmering and not boiling – you want it bubbling just enough to poach the eggs in it.)

Sprinkle the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the Parmesan over the egg whites and tomato sauce but avoid getting much onto the yolks. Cover the pan with a lid and cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks still runny.

Remove the pan from the heat and garnish with the remaining chopped fresh basil and, if desired, another little sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Serve with plenty of garlic bread to dunk into the eggs and tomato sauce.

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Eggs in Purgatory - Eggs poached in a quickly made tomato, garlic, and basil sauce. Perfect supper for one or late night indulgence. https://www.lanascooking.com/eggs-in-purgatory/

Eggs in Purgatory

A deliciously different idea for brunch. Great for a late night treat after an evening out, too!
5 from 5 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 1 generous serving
Calories: 302kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced or grated
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 14.5 ounces canned whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes being careful not to let the garlic brown.
  • Pour in the tomatoes with their juice and break them up with a spoon or potato masher. Add most of the basil, reserving just a bit for garnish, and simmer the mixture for a few minutes or until the liquid has cooked down somewhat (usually takes 8-10 minutes for me).
  • Crack each egg into a small bowl and carefully slip them into the pan on top of the simmering sauce. (Note: be sure the sauce is just simmering and not boiling – you just want it bubbling enough to poach the eggs in it.) Sprinkle the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the egg whites and tomato sauce but avoid getting much onto the yolks.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks still runny.
  • Remove from the heat and garnish with the remaining chopped fresh basil and, if desired, another little sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Serve with plenty of garlic bread to dunk into the eggs and tomato sauce.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 336mg | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 937IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 172mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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12 Comments

  1. I am a cook for one, so I use Rao marinara sauce, add crushed red pepper to taste, no salt, no pepper, good call on the Parm cheese, I add a good olive oil when ready to eat. I will look for fresh basil, Your recipe sounds amazing for more than 1.

      1. Thanks for the sonic-speed reply! NO- I have to have my yolks really runny! I wonder why it causes the yolks to break…

    1. Yes, you’d probably want to cut way back on the red pepper! I like mine spicy, but you can even leave the red pepper out completely if you want to.

  2. I love your blog and coincidentally made Eggs in Purgatory last week!!

    Did you enjoy it? I used the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and was pretty happy w the results. Although I think I overcooked my eggs a bit!!

    1. Yes, Alexis! I love it. It’s so good and so easy to make! I mostly followed Nigella Lawson’s recipe (with a few variations of my own).