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Eggs in Purgatory is a recipe that takes simple pantry ingredients and elevates them to a meal that feels happy, nourishing, and delicious.  The sauce contains delicious healing spices; oregano, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, red and black pepper. You can make it spicy or mild. And if you don’t have all the spices that’s okay too! Enjoy this easy recipe for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Why is this dish called eggs in purgatory?

Essentially it’s eggs that are poached in a thick, robust tomato sauce with onions, garlic and spices. Purgatory can refer to the bubbling red sauce or the fire of the red pepper flakes used to season it. This dish is also know as Shakshuka.

According to Merriam-Webster purgatory is the place where the soul is cleansed of all impurities, as Dante described in his great poem The Divine Comedy. Today purgatory can refer to any place or situation in which suffering and misery are felt to be sharp but temporary.  

At first I though it was such an unflattering name, but now I think it’s an appropriate dish for right now, since it might feel like we’re in purgatory with all the restrictions.

But by the time it’s over we’ll emerge renewed.

Speaking of suffering, many of us are experiencing lots of emotions right now. I am reading a fascinating book, “Untamed” a memoir by Glennon Doyle. In the book she talks about feeling your emotions as they come up.

She says they are like visitors coming to your door. You can open the door and let them in or ignore them hoping they will go away.

You may be afraid that your feelings are so powerful that they will stay forever and destroy you. If you let them in, they may disturb you. But if you sit with them and let yourself feel what you feel, they’ll leave you with with an exciting gift. That gift is more self knowledge and more self acceptance.

Your feelings will bring you exactly what you need to know about yourself to move forward in your life with confidence and creativity. If that sounds good to you check out the book!

I love this dish because it’s easy to make, richly flavored, healthy, and has simple ingredients.  You probably have everything in your pantry already.

The Middle Eastern version, shakshuka, often adds green peppers, sweet paprika, and cumin, and huevos rancheros might be considered the Mexican version of Eggs in Purgatory.

My recipe is an Italian version with additional healing spices.  It’s made with oregano, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, red and black pepper.  You can make it spicy or mild.  And if you don’t have all the spices that’s okay too!

Eggs In Purgatory Plate Flowers

I use canned, diced fire roasted tomatoes but it can be made with tomato sauce and then you don’t need so many spices.

You’ll also find plenty of garlic and the special addition of spinach for extra nutrition.  You know I like to put vegetables in everything.

This dish is best enjoyed right away, but you could refrigerate extra tomato sauce for a few days.  All you have to do is heat it up to cook the eggs.

Since so many restaurants serve Eggs in Purgatory for brunch, you’ll feel like you’re making something special. But it’s really effortless-to-make and heavenly-to-eat.

Make it together with your mom on Mother’s day either in person or on zoom.

I like it plain or with a little goat cheese. Others might like it with gluten free bread.

Enjoy this saucy, flavorful, easy-to-make dish.

“What scares me more than feeling it all, is missing it all.” Glennon Doyle

Other delicious brunch dishes you’ll love:

Spanish Vegetable Frittata 

Spinach Fritters

Crispy Vegetable Fritters Vegan or Paleo

And if you’re looking for delicious gluten free bread, I highly recommend my Paleo Morning Glory Bread. It’s great for brunch. Enjoy!

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Eggs In Purgatory Pan

Eggs In Purgatory

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  • Author: Ingrid DeHart
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


In this easy, satisfying dish eggs are poached in a thick, robust tomato sauce with onions, garlic and spices. Perfect for brunch, lunch or light supper. 


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • A pinch – ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (plain is fine too)
  • 1 cup spinach coarsely chopped
  • 4 large pastured eggs
  • 4 tablespoons goat cheese (optional)
  • Cilantro chopped for garnish


  1. Heat oil over medium-low heat in a 10-12-inch skillet.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute more.
  4. Add oregano, turmeric, cumin, paprika, red pepper, black pepper and salt. Cook about 1 minute to toast spices.
  5. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  6. While cooking, use a fork to mash the tomatoes so there are no big pieces.
  7. Add spinach, stir until wilted. Taste to adjust salt.
  8. Make 4 small indentation in the tomatoes with a spoon. Crack the eggs into the dents in the sauce and cover. Simmer on low until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. About 3minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with goat cheese, if using
  10. Top with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.


Nutrition information is without goat cheese.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes

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