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Growing up, whenever my sisters and I were feeling under the weather, my mom would always make soft-boiled eggs, which she'd scoop on top of little cubes of buttered toast, so the molten center would soften each crispy piece. It was the best kind of comfort food — easy to prepare, satisfying, and, unlike a rich mac 'n' cheese, healthy!
Nowadays, I prefer to dip buttered toast soldiers into my egg, lightly seasoned with flakes of sea salt, rather than pour the egg on top. It's a simple and easy breakfast or snack, any time of day.
Click here to see What Are Heirloom Eggs?
- 2 eggs, preferably heirloom varieties, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 slices toast, toasted
- Sea salt, to taste
Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toast
Adapted from Amy Pennington | Urban Pantry | Skipstone Press, 2010
This soft-boiled eggs recipe is, in the words of the author, “over-the-top easy. Not quite cooked all the way, but cooked enough to smear on your toast.” Or to heck with smearing and just go ahead and dip your toast in that sorta-but-not-quite runny yolk. Just like you did as a kid. Perfect any time of day. Originally published September 6, 2011.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Easy soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers recipe
You know the feeling. You need something to eat, but you’re not famished. Or perhaps you’re tired or a bit poorly and you want a meal that’s quick and no-fuss, but healthier than a bag of chips or a handful of biscuits…
If you have eggs and bread you’re set. This meal works for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack!
When I finally arrived home at my farm last night and found an almost bare cupboard, this was a perfect simple dinner with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice from the fruit in our orchard.
I’ve loved soft boiled eggs and dippy toast soldiers since I was a little girl and my Nana would make them for me when I went for sleep-overs at her house. If it was cold I always got to wear her dressing gown too. Cosy, warm and loved – that’s how this old-fashioned recipe makes me feel, just like Nana’s gown.
2 to 3 fresh eggs per person, one slice of bread per egg, and some butter, salt and pepper. Egg cups to serve.
Set a saucepan of water on the stove to boil. Add a liberal pinch of salt. This helps to prevent the egg shells from cracking.
When the water is boiling rapidly use a slotted spoon and gently lower each egg into the water, releasing it slowly so it doesn’t bang on the bottom of the pot and crack. When all the eggs are in your pot set a timer for three minutes.
*Note on timing: my husband likes his eggs REALLY runny so I cook his for three minutes. The white will still be a little wobbly too and you’ll be able to scoop the entire egg out with your toast! I leave mine in the pot for another 30 seconds to a minute after I have taken it off the heat. This sets the white but the yolk will still have a runny centre. The picture at the top of the page is my egg (four minutes – you can see the yolk is starting to firm around the edges) and the picture below is Ben’s three minute egg – gloriously runny. Once you get to five minutes your yolks will be quite firm and will still be delicious but you won’t be able to dip your toast in.
While the eggs are cooking take some time to get your plates out, and place an egg cup, a knife and a teaspoon on each plate. Put your bread in the toaster, and when it’s done to your liking butter it and slice each piece into three or four narrow fingers. (If you make them too fat they won’t fit into your egg for dunking!)
To serve place an egg in the egg cup and the spare egg beside it, and then add a pile of toast. Use your knife to tap the side of the egg and then chop the top off, revealing the gooey yolk. Add a grind of salt or pepper if you wish, and then take a toast ‘soldier’ and dip it into your velvety, runny egg.
Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.
This is the best way to cook a real, truly fresh egg if you’re lucky enough to get hold of some and want to experience the pure flavor of egg. I recommend accompanying the eggs with toast soldiers, buttered toast that is sliced into 1-inch rectangles for dipping into the yolk. The next best thing is popcorn.
If you follow this method, however, you’ll have a high record of success. Once you’ve done it one or two times, you’ll figure out the perfect timing to achieve the consistency of egg you like.
You can do this with as many eggs as you can fit roomily, in one layer, in the bottom of a saucepan, though more than 4 eggs may require slightly longer cooking time.
Put the eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for about 5 minutes to warm them. Use this time for slicing bread for toast soldiers and getting the other elements ready, such as butter and a knife for spreading it, as you’ll want to need to move quickly once the eggs start cooking.
Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs by about one inch and bring to a boil.
Set a timer for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the water as you turn the flame down to a simmer or very low boil. Start the timer. (Do not allow the water to boil as it toughens the white and jostles the eggs so they crack).
When the eggs are done, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and run cold tap water briefly over them to stop the cooking. Blot each egg with a tea towel as you place it point-side-up in an egg cup. You’ll have about 30 to 40 seconds once the eggs are in their cups before they’ll start to overcook. Butter and the toast soldiers if you haven’t already. Arrange some around each egg and serve at once.
To eat a soft-boiled egg, use a dinner knife to cut off the top 1/2 inch of shell. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and eat with a teaspoon.
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How To Make Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs (Eggs & Soldiers)
Soft-boiled eggs are one of my very favorite breakfasts, and one that I eat the most often! (don’t worry, the shells are only on the above eggs for photo purposes! When making this recipe, you should remove the shell before serving)
The other morning, I was enjoying my soft-boiled eggs with buttered toast and a cappuccino when I asked on Twitter if anyone would be interested in learning how it’s done—to my surprise, many of you said YES! Well fellow egg loving friends, this post is for you.
Soft-boiled eggs are the perfect combination between poached eggs and hard-boiled eggs. I love them because it gives me the opportunity to dunk my bread stick (the “soldier”) into the deliciously thick and runny yolk. I also feel so dignified eating them in cute little egg cups (the above cups are from Etsy!)—it may sound silly, but it really starts my day on a positive note!
I’m lucky enough to buy my eggs straight from a local farm. Well, straight from my hair stylist across the street who gets them delivered straight from the farm, that is.
I have to say, it’s pretty cool to have both your hair girl and your egg girl a stone’s throw away….what more do you need in life?
So, once you learn the timing on soft-boiled eggs, you’ll be making these for yourself almost daily! They are so easy! All you do is bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove, carefully drop in your eggs, then cover the pot tight and reduce heat to low.
Then, set your timer for five minutes:
The timer is going, make your coffee and stick your bread in the toaster! I like a five minute egg, but some people prefer their eggs to be a little less runny. If that’s you, set your timer for six minutes!
When the timer goes off, the eggs are done so quickly grab ’em and run them under cold water. Then gently peel them (unlike my photo…haha) and either smash them with a fork in a bowl or eat them all dignified like out of an egg cup with your pinkie in the air. These are also great for dinner! Last night I had them over another (I know…I know…) kale salad and it was lovely.
As for your toast, butter it then cut it into sticks for dippin’. Or at least that’s what the Brits tell me. Apparently, the buttered bread sticks look like soldiers standing at attention. I like it!
And now, on a totally irrelevant and unrelated note, after watching way too many youtube videos on the subject, I finally tried out the “sock bun” yesterday.
And I think it would have scared my sweet little yoga students, too, if I would have showed up like this to teach yesterday afternoon.
Some people can pull the look out wonderfully, but as for me….I’ll stick with a ponytail. The sock bun is just….too much on me. Just too much.
How to Make Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs (Eggs & Soldiers)
2 slices whole-grain bread
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, carefully (!!) set the eggs in the water. Cover and turn heat to low. Set your timer for five minutes (six if you like thicker yolks).
Meanwhile, toast your bread then smear with butter. Cut into one-inch sticks (“soldiers”).
Gently remove the eggs from the water when the timer goes off. Immediately run under cold water. Peel carefully. Set eggs in a cute egg dish or smash in a shallow bowl. Dip toast in yolks and enjoy!
Eggs and Toast Soldiers
Do you remember what life was like back when you first met your sweetheart? Ahhh, lusty bliss and well before the days when one wouldn’t die of embarrassment if a little backside wind escaped. For us it’s been twenty years and honestly, it’s always the dog who does it.
Life was simple, breakfast was eaten in bed and work was that stuff other people did but we were too busy having fun to think about that. I’d never heard of ‘toast soldiers’ until I met John.
During his first visit with me in the states, during our travels we were in one of those apartment hotels and he announced he was making soft boiled eggs for breakfast and did I want any and ‘oh by the way, toast soldiers too’.
I don’t often have soft boiled eggs for breakfast because if I’m not paying attention and undercook them, then I’ve got all the white runny stuff that really turns me off. I also don’t like hard boiled eggs for breakfast – maybe I’m just hard to please.
“He can cook too?” I thought. (Yes, he will cook soft boiled eggs, toast soldiers, seafood pasta and umm… that’s about it. He CAN cook but he hasn’t done much of it since I moved in.)
I said yes to breakfast and not to sound stupid, I didn’t mention that I had no clue what a toast soldier was so I kept a pretty close eye on him. The ‘duh’ moment hit when he buttered ordinary toast and cut it into strips to dunk in the creamy egg yolk. Little. soldiers.
Breakfast was perfectly cooked and I’ve been a fan of soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers ever since. One thing on that trip has caused us a few arguments. I ate like an American. No, seriously, I did. Everyone did.
We pick up the fork in our left hand and our knife in our right hand and we cut the portion to be eaten and then we put the knife down, swap the fork to the right hand and eat the bite. right?
One day he asked if everyone in my family ate that way.
He went on to tell me that he thought I ate funny and I said, “everyone eats this way.”
“No, they don’t, Maureen, I’ve seen heaps of American movies and they all eat the proper way.”
OMG he was insulting me and telling me I had no class and I was really peeved. I told him that was just nuts. I didn’t know anyone but foreigners who ate with the fork always in the left hand.
That night we went to a poncy restaurant and I was determined to point out how Americans ate. He, on the other hand, was just as determined to show me that I didn’t know how to eat. We furtively looked around the room, trying not to stare and it wasn’t long before a sly smile came across my face. EVERYWHERE people were swapping forks back and forth and in the poncy restaurant too.
“But… in the movies they eat properly,” he said.
“You are such a snob thinking your way is the proper way and remind me why I thought I liked you in the first place?” He laughed, apologized and life went on but I never forgot.
Dippy Eggs with Soldiers
I don’t remember the first time I saw someone dipping strips of toasts into runny eggs, but I’ve always had the notion that this was a very special dish. It’s like a ritual – tapping a spoon all the way around the egg, removing the top, and dipping the first soldier into the middle and watching the yolk spill out over the sides. There’s an almost meditative process to eating Dippy Eggs with Soldiers. It is a fairly quick breakfast to make and consume, but this isn’t something you just shovel in your mouth and run out the door. For me, it’s best enjoyed when you have a quiet morning, time to sip on a hot cup of joe, and read the newspaper (old school or digital).
If you’re not familiar with the term “soldier,” as it refers to breakfast, Wikipedia has defined it as:
A British term that refers to a piece of toast cut into thin strips reminiscent of the formation of soldiers on parade. The toast is sliced in this manner so that it can be dipped into the opening of a soft boiled egg that has had the top of its shell removed. Another belief for the origin of the name is from the childhood rhyme “Humpty Dumpty”. The bread refers to the soldiers who went to rescue Humpty Dumpty when he had his “great fall.”
Quite often the simplest dishes are the best. They can also be the easiest to flub. There are various schools of thought on how to make the perfect soft boiled egg, but I’ve found that if you follow a few easy steps you get a perfect egg every time:
- Make sure you lower the boiling water to simmering before you add your eggs – a hard boil may cause your eggs to collide and crack.
- Cool down the eggs in a water bath immediately after you remove them from the hot water. This will halt the cooking process.
- USE A TIMER! It’s so easy to let an extra 30 seconds slip by, and when you’re making soft boiled eggs, 30 seconds can be the difference between perfectly runny yolks and one that is too firm for your liking.
When choosing your bread, pick whatever kind you like best for toast. The soldiers are generally served with a smattering of butter spread over top or even nothing at all. Never leaving well enough alone, I’ve put a Japanese twist on this British classic by adding miso to the butter. I then mixed it with some ground mustard to give it some kick and fresh chives for just a hint of onion. Spread on the soldiers it complements perfectly with the rich and creamy egg yolk. These Dippy Eggs with Soldiers will be your old-new favorite lazy day breakfast.
How much did you enjoy this recipe? Rate it from 1-5 to let us know!
Do not put the eggs directly from the frig to the boiling water. There is a good chance they will crack.
That's right, Jim. Thanks for clarifying! It's best to put the eggs in the water and then bring them to a boil while they're already submerged so that they don't crack.
How do i make hard boiled eggs without having trouble removing the shell ?
Hi PT, have you ever tried steaming your eggs instead of boiling? We've found this method to be incredibly helpful: https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/04/the-easy-way-to-peel-farm-fresh-hard-boiled-eggs.html. Let us know if it makes our eggs a bit easier to peel.
I like my eggs hard broil. I will try the receipe. Thank You Blessing
We hope you enjoy it, Nancy!
A. Garry King
Another great way to get consistently perfect boiled eggs. is to steam them. Get a pot with a inch or two of water to the boil, put in the eggs cold from the fridge. Cover an steam for 6 minutes. Put the pot in the sink and run cold water into it for 30 seconds. Runny golden perfection, every time.
Thank you so much for sharing your method, Garry! We've had some success with steaming our eggs as well, and it even makes them easier to peel. We appreciate your great suggestions and would love to see a photo of your delicious egg creations some time!
How do you slice off the top without breaking the rest?
A garry king
I use a similar method to Taylors, using just the spoon, but Iɾ read that Rosle's egg topper does a very good job. My drawers just can't handle one more gadget!
We hear you, Garry! With all the gadgets out there, we're running out of kitchen space! Glad to hear that the spoon method has worked well for you.
Hey Eggbert (love the name!), great question. Once the egg is in its cup, we recommend giving the top a few firm taps with a spoon to crack open the shell. Once you've cracked the top, use a small knife to gently cut around the egg and pull off the top. If you want a really clean cut, you might be able to find an egg-topper (a tool made specifically for topping soft-boiled eggs) at your local kitchen supply store - but for most people, the spoon and knife work just fine!
Once I've learned this method, making soft-boiled eggs became easy. The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
You start by boiling water in a small saucepan. When the water reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium-low. You want to maintain a gentle boil.
Now, carefully lower your eggs into the pot. Leave it uncovered, and allow the eggs to cook for exactly five minutes.
As soon as your timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the water and place them in egg cups.
Allow them to slightly cool, then slice the top off with a sharp knife. See? Thick yet gooey yolk, creamy white - perfection!
Perfect soft boiled eggs with soldiers
This easy recipe will help you master the art of boiling egg and learn how to cook boiled eggs with soft runny yolks. Once you’ve perfected soft boiled eggs, your kids will love dipping the toast soldiers into the soft gooey yolks at breakfast, lunch, or just about any other time of day.
Preparation time: 3-5 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes Difficulty rating: Easy