Zuppa alla Pavese

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Feeds


Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

A humble soup, born of the fear of the good hostess that there isn’t enough for her guests. In the course of his battles with the Holy Roman Empire, Francis I, King of France, was sheltered in a local farmhouse. The woman of the house had nothing but stale bread, broth and freshly laid eggs, so she combined them in a soup of spectacular modesty which has been winning hearts ever since. Francis lost the battle, and was captured in 1525, but we won the recipe.


  • 4 free range eggs
  • 4 thick slices of tough country bread
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 litre ( pints) great chicken broth
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • grated Parmigiano for serving


Heat oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat broth to a rolling boil.

Butter the bread on both sides and fry on one side in a hot pan until lightly golden. Cut an egg-sized hole in the middle of each slice, and turn over. Break an egg into each hole and cook, covered, for 3 minutes or so, until egg is cooked and set, but still runny in centre.

Taste broth for salt and pepper.

Arrange the toast in warmed soup bowls. Ladle hot broth around toast and serve immediately, with a bowl of grated Parmigiano.