Growing up, I remember my mom making soufflés. Well to be honest, I really only remember her making one soufflé and I recall not liking it that much. However, I was mesmerized by it as I peeped through the oven window watching it get higher and higher. Now, I love them. And a nice, slow, do-nothing Sunday morning is the perfect time for one.
Soufflés really aren’t that much work and you don’t have to tip-toe around while they bake. Honestly, its maybe 20-minutes of prep time and 30-40-minutes in the oven! Plus, its basic ingredients; eggs, cheese, some milk, a little butter, a little flour and you have a stunning, delicious brunch.
So this recipe comes from the Larousse Gastronomique (subtitled: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia.) The LG is a 7 ½ pound monster, over 1200 pages long. I have to admit I find it a bit intimidating but it’s got some fascinating information and quite a few recipes; in fact 2 ½ pages of soufflé recipes alone. This is where my spinach soufflé recipe comes from.
This is a classic soufflé recipe. You first make a béchamel sauce, add egg yolks and flavoring (spinach and cheese for mine), fold that into fluffy, whipped egg whites, pour the whole thing into a soufflé pan and bake. I was a bit skeptical of this recipe at first. For anyone who’s ever made a roux, I thought this one was a little off base. It called for way more flour than I thought it should have, so I reduced it from 6 tablespoons to 3 tablespoons, which still made for a really stiff, gloppy béchamel. The sauce did loosen up a little with the addition of the egg yolks and spinach and in the end the soufflé was gorgeous.
This assumes that you have basics like, flour, milk and butter (maybe a dollars-worth altogether).
4 eggs - $1.06 (based on dozen cage-free $3.19)
8 ounces frozen spinach - $0.70 (based on 16-oz bag at $1.39)
3 oz white cheddar cheese - $1.49 (based on $4.99 for 10-oz)
3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
8 ounces frozen spinach
3 oz white cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°.
- Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess moisture.
- Separate four eggs, with whites in a large bowl and yolks in a small bowl.
- Butter the inside of an eight inch soufflé pan.
- Make a béchamel by melting the butter in medium saucepan, stir in flour and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the milk and bring it to a boil whisk often. Season with salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg. Cook over low heat for an additional 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks. Add 1/3 egg whites to the béchamel and gently stir to combine (to further lighten the béchamel). Carefully fold the béchamel mixture into the egg whites folding into the batter is fairly homogenous (it’s OK if those bits of streaks of egg white still in the mix).
- Pour the batter into the soufflé pan and bake (see cook’s note) for 30 minutes without opening the door until well risen and the top is golden-brown.
Cook’s note: I don’t particularly like brown, crusty egg dishes, so I usually cook my soufflés a bain-marie to keep the sides from browning, but that’s up to you.
The Larousse Gastronomique really is a wonderful book with lots of useful information (like what is a bain-marie?) and would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s cookbook collection.