Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recipe: Zuppa Pavese

Photo of a broth-based soup surrounding a soaked piece of bread and a poached egg broken to let the yolk seep out.

I love me some soup. It's a convenient, tasty meal that either comes together quickly or can be made well in advance, making for a quick supper somewhere down the line. It's good in winter; it's good in summer. Ain't nothin' bad about a bowl of soup.

A recent trip to the library turned up THE SOUPMAKER'S KITCHEN by Aliza Green. Soup cookbooks hold a special fascination for me, so I picked it up, flipped through it, and paused at recipe for zuppa pavese. This Spanish peasant soup incorporates a poached egg and toasted bread--too tempting for anyone with a penchant for runny yolks to resist. One look at the picture and I knew I had to make it for myself.

Zuppa pavese is supposedly the result of a quick scramble to make a king's supper, so it uses only a handful of ingredients most people probably have on hand. Its simplicity in no way detracts from its flavour. This is amazing soup, y'all, even if you use cheap ingredients. The egg yolk and the cheese enrich the broth, the parsley makes it pop, and the bread absorbs all the best qualities of everything else in the bowl.

It's easy to prepare for lots of people, too. The measurements I've given below work for one bowl of soup. Multiply them by any number and you've got a great many bowls to dispense as you will.


  • one slice of bread (I used French, but you can use whatever)
  • a generous drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable; I went with chicken)
  • 1.5 tablespoons grated Parmesan (or another hard cheese; the original recipe calls for Grana Padano, which sounds expensive)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • some white or cider vinegar

Toast the bread until it's golden brown. Lay it in the bottom of a bowl, drizzle it with a fair amount of olive oil, and sprinkle about one tablespoon of the cheese over top.

Heat your broth to boiling, or thereabouts.

Poach the egg. The easiest way to do this is to crack it into a small bowl first, then tip it from the bowl into a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt and a splash of vinegar. Let it cook for about one and a half to two minutes so the whites are firm but the yolk is still runny.

Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and plunk it down on top of the bread, making sure it doesn't break just yet. Top it with a little more cheese and the parsley.

Pour the hot broth over the egg and bread.

Once you've finished marveling at the beauty that is your intact zuppa pavese, smash the egg and let the yolk run into the broth. You won't regret it.


  1. And what a lovely bowl you served your zuppa in.

  2. Replies
    1. I hope you love it as much as I do! I've made it a few more times since I posted this, and I'm contemplating it again for tonight's supper.

  3. Ooo, I am interested. Yet I cannot make this meal unless I have a minion to poach the egg for me. Eggs never poach properly in my life.

    1. If I lived at all close to you, I would totally be your egg-poaching minion. I've been poaching eggs for less than a week, but I appear to have a knack for it.

      Of course, now that I've said that I'll never poach an egg properly again. Argh! Why did I say that?