Clear pigeon broth with poached quails' eggs and herbs

Serves 4

There is something quite comforting about a light, clear broth, and you can make enough for four people with just a couple of game bird carcasses. Use as many little poached eggs as you wish. You may think it's nuts to poach quails' eggs but it's really dead easy. (Alternatively, use a small hen's or bantam egg.)

2 oven-ready pigeons
2 sticks of celery, washed, 1 stick roughly chopped and one left whole
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
10 black peppercorns
2 litres cold chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 quails' eggs
100-120ml white wine vinegar for poaching
A small handful of celery leaves

Put the pigeons in a large saucepan with the roughly chopped celery, onion, thyme, peppercorns and chicken stock, season lightly, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Remove the pigeons, leave to cool a little, then remove the breasts and put to one side on a plate; return the carcasses to the broth and continue simmering for another 45 minutes. Next, strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan, check the strength and continue simmering if it needs to be stronger.

To poach the quails' eggs: bring a pan of water to a simmer, put the vinegar into a bowl and with a small knife carefully break the quails' eggs and crack them into the bowl of vinegar. Turn the water up to a slow boil and carefully tip the eggs and vinegar into the water. Simmer gently for about 30-40 seconds, or until the eggs have set, but are still soft in the middle. Have a bowl of cold water ready and remove the eggs with a slotted spoon into the cold water.

To serve, cut each of the pigeon breasts into about 5 slices and place in the middle of warmed soup plates. Next, add the drained quails' eggs and a few leaves of celery off the spare stick. Finally, pour the hot soup into the bowls and serve immediately.

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