In my book, there are few foods that can’t be improved by having a fried egg on top of it. Steak? Yes. Schnitzel? Absolutely. Burger? Pizza? Soup? Bibimbop? Of course.
I was delighted when I found in David Tanis’s genius Platter of Figs a recipe for Fried Egg Soup, which made the eggs the point, rather than an afterthought.* I thought of him again recently when I had a little leftover sauce made from the most luscious heirloom tomatoes.
I had about a cup of this magical tomato elixir left over, and I certainly didn’t want to let it go to waste. A lot has been written about Eggs in Purgatory, where you fry your egg right in the tomato sauce and sprinkle the thing with some Italian cheese, but I was feeling a little more Eggs in Somerset that day, since I had some amazing Cheddar in the cheese bin. I heated the sauce, cracked the egg in and let it cook a little, then sprinkled the thing with Cheddar and popped the pan into the broiler.
What emerged was the most delectable soup, sort of a grilled cheese and tomato soup all in one, with occasional crisp egg edges or silky yolk enriching the whole thing (a piece of toast drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic was all the adornment it needed). I slid it into my soup bowl, and proceeded to have one of those miraculous lunches, where I spend the whole meal thinking about how 5 minutes prior it had seemed there was nothing in the house and I was going to have to subsist on a discoloring mozzarella stick and some dried-out raisins, and now I was feasting like a king—or at least an Earl.
*Perhaps the best thing I learned from that recipe is that you can actually fry the eggs up to an hour ahead and hold them at room temperature! Which means that you can serve this dish, or a variation of it, to a crowd of like-minded people.** When you slide them into a hot bowl of soup at serving time, they will, of course, return to the ideal temperature.
**Don’t ever assume, however, that your crowd is like-minded. For some reason that I have yet to figure out, lots of people think the egg-in-soup thing is a little weird.