Quail and celery broth with poached eggs and wild garlic

Serves 4

There is something so comforting about a light clear broth. You can make enough for four people with just a couple of quails and you can put in as many little poached eggs as you wish. If you don't fancy faffing around with the quails' eggs you could also use a small hen or bantam egg.

2 large quails
6 sticks of celery, washed, 5 sticks 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 wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly chopped

Put the quails 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 30 minutes. Remove the quails and continue simmering the stock for another 30 minutes.

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 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 bowl of water.

Remove all of the meat from the quails and slice or shred it up. Cut the remaining stick of celery into 2cm lengths, then shred it lengthways as finely as possible.

Strain the broth through a fine-meshed

sieve into a clean pan, check the strength and if it's a bit weak continue simmering it for a while until it has a good flavour; then season to taste. Add the celery to the soup and simmer for a minute.

Put three quails' eggs into each warmed soup bowl with some wild garlic, then carefully pour over the soup and serve.

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