One of my best tricks in the kitchen is Cheese Soufflé. I’ve had a recipe that I’ve used for years, modifying as I go. It always turns out beautifully and both of my girls actually eat it – can I get a hallelujah? That’s a pretty rare moment in this household.
Cheese soufflé seems fancy, and hey, it is, but it is also pretty easy to make. It isn’t super quick and there are a couple of techniques that are fairly simple but not in your everyday family cook’s repertoire. But you know what, they could be. I’ll show you what I know and then you’ll have it in your bag of cooking tricks. Let them eat soufflé!
This recipe has been adopted (and adapted and adapted) from Rose Elliot‘s The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine. It is a lovely, very British cookbook that I’ve had for many years.
I make this in single serving ramekins. Everyone likes getting their own soufflé. My daughters and husband fight over who gets the 5th soufflé. Lately, the soccer-playing teenager has been winning. She’s hungry!
Let Them Eat Cheese Soufflé
Makes 5-6 servings
4 T butter
2 T unbleached flour
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cup cheese (Rose suggests some gruyere, but I really like parmesan – it has that punchy flavor but is easier to find and the kids already like it thanks to their general love affair with pasta and parmesan. You can mix cheeses too, try some cheddar with havarti.)
4 eggs separated (Egg whites in one bowl, egg yolks in another. See below.)
sea salt and pepper
extra butter for greasing
You’ll also need:
- 5 or 6 single serving ramekins
- a medium size saucepan or skillet
- a whisk
- an electric mixer
- 9×11″ baking dish
How to Separate Eggs:
My mother taught me this. You need 3 bowls. Break the egg over bowl one. Try to keep the yolk in one of the broken halves of the egg shell. Let the egg white drop into bowl one, put the egg yolk in bowl two. If your yolk stayed whole and no yolk got in the white, then pour the white from bowl one into bowl three. If any yolk gets into your white you’ll have to throw it away/save it for another cooking project/feed it to your dog. Dogs like this process. The egg whites need to stay pristinely clear and yolk-free for the souffle to do its thing. It isn’t hard to do, but it does take some focus. See video below.
- Assemble all ingredients. Timing is kinda everything with a soufflé. Measure out your ingredients before you start so that you can focus on your cooking. The French use the term mise en place to mean “to put into place” for this. It actually makes the whole cooking process way more relaxing even when you’re not making a soufflé.
- Preheat the oven to °375.
- Generously grease each ramekin.
- Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Once it is melted, add the flour and whisk, whisk, whisk until fully incorporated. This, my friends, is called a roux. Slowly add the milk and whisk over medium to low heat until the whole sauce thickens nicely. This could take a minute or two. See video below.
- Turn off the heat under the saucepan and add in the cheese.
- Now add the egg yolks and some salt and pepper. (Remember that cheese is already a bit salty.)
- This part is fun. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. You know it is a stiff peak when you stop the mixer and turn the beater upside down. If the egg white doesn’t move even a tiny bit, then you are done. Don’t over or under beat.
- Using a spoon and starting slowly, gently fold the egg whites into the roux still in the saucepan.
- Turn the mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. I go for bigger is better and make 5 but you could make slightly smaller servings for younger children and fill 6 ramekins.
- This part is weird, but it makes all the difference. Fill the bottom of the 9×11″ baking dish with about a quarter of an inch of water. Carefully place each soufflé filled-ramekin into the water bath. (You aren’t pouring the eggs into the water. Oh no! You are just placing the ramekins full of soufflé into the water.) The steam from the water makes the soufflés puff up extra light and fluffy.
- Place the baking dish with all the ramekins into the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. The soufflés should be fully puffed up and not wobble if shaken slightly. Carefully take the baking dish out of the oven.
- Very carefully lift the soufflés out of the water bath and onto individual dinner plates. I use giant tongs for this. Serve immediately with a spoon. Enjoy the magnificence of their light and fluffy cheesiness. The soufflés will fall after a bit so you will want everyone at the table when you are pulling them out of the oven. You’ll want the whole family to get the full effect of puffy cheese glory when their own special soufflé arrives at their place at the table.If you have any questions about this recipe, I hope you’ll ask them in the comments below. And if you have your own soufflé tips, please share them with all of us. It takes a village to raise children and feed a family, so please help us all by sharing what you know!
This week on the April Eight Songs & Stories Podcast, we’ll start a whole new adventure. I can hardly wait! Follow the blog by clicking on the link in the sidebar and never miss a post. Subscribe on iTunes and never miss a story.