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My Mom’s Classic Cheese Souffle

As I’ve written about before, I was raised a vegetarian. My mother was a pioneer and a rebel, and by default I was a pioneer and a rebel too, like it or not.

Why a Rebel? In the 80’s, being raised in rural BC as a vegetarian I may have been more accepted and understood if I was from the moon. Fortunately for me, my parents were not that interested or concerned about being judged by others. The vegetarian movement was not widely understood or accepted and being ostracized as one was a real thing.

How times have changed.

We’re now raising our children as modern vegetarians. What’s modern? It’s having a better understanding that just because it doesn’t contain meat, does not make it healthy.  This said, my mother is one of the most health conscious people I know but in the 70’s and 80’s saturated fat and cholesterol were not well understood and we were raised eating a load of eggs and plenty of dairy. I am not going to go deep into the egg and milk thing but there is surprising evidence that cholesterol (and especially oxidized cholesterol) is something to limit and our family feels much better without too much dairy.

Wonderfully for my children, they have no issue at school being vegetarian, and being proud to explain why they are. ALL of their friends parents go out of their way to accommodate them and just because they choose not to eat meat and limit their dairy, it’s never stopped them from attending a birthday party or sleep over.   

This all said, I was raised with Souffle as a staple and today my family LOVES when I make it, but we now have it as ‘treat food’. I’ll make Souffle for a special occasion once in a while and the crowd goes wild. There’s a tremendous amount of protein from the eggs, milk, butter and flour but also quite a bit of Cholesterol and some Saturated Fat. This is why I refer to this as treat food, being a ‘Plant Forward’ family, it is all not made of plants. The meal that I will share with you was served with a large salad and slow roasted potatoes. Each serving was approx 1 to 1.5 eggs, which is over the recommended levels of cholesterol for an adult so please keep in mind that if you are eating eggs for dinner it’s best to watch other sources of cholesterol throughout the day.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to make a quick note about this Souffle; it’s not just any Souffle. When I was young my father was close friends with Chef Pierre Koffel, of the Deep Cove Chalet (the other Deep Cove). Once in a while, on his rare days off, he’d come over to our house for dinner. He’d always request my Mother’s Souffle, as he said it was the best he’d ever eaten.  

  

So, here it is.

Using the right dish is important. We carry Emile Henry, as it’s what I’ve always used. I’ve cooked every Souffle in an EH dish and always had great results.

In the current size of Souffle Dish (they’ve made different sizes over the years) you can fit 7 or 8 eggs that will feed 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients:

  • 7 or 8 large Eggs (This meal is mostly eggs so please get the best quality eggs you can find)
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/1/8 cup of Milk (2% at least)
  • ½ to ¾ cup of Parmesan Reggiano plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 dash Worcestershire Sauce (the type without anchovies)
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 dash salt
  • A bit of white pepper, if wanted

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and make sure that the top rack is set in the middle with nothing else above

Make a roux – (the trick to making a Roux is to set medium heat and to keep stirring)

  • Separately, heat the milk to very warm
  • In a heavy saucepan, on medium heat, melt the butter
  • Slowly mix in the flour, constantly stirring
  • Keep stirring
  • Give it a minute or two to cook, but keep stirring
  • Keep stirring
  • Slowly add the very warm milk and keep stirring
  • Lower the heat
  • Keep stirring
  • Add Worcestershire Sauce, Dijon Mustard and seasoning
  • Stir
  • You have a roux
  • Take the roux off the heat

Separate the eggs

  • Carefully separate the eggs, making sure not to get ANY egg yolk in the whites. If you do, you must start again or your whites will not peak. Because of this I always use 3 bowls: one to separate over, one for the yolks and one for the whites (use a cold oversized mixing bowl for the whites)  
  • I find that hand beaten eggs are best and using a hand blender or stand mixer does not infuse enough air (I’ve always thought that this is why my mom’s is better that a famous French Chef’s)
  • At this point I beat the egg whites to 25% done and set aside – this saves some effort from the work later on

Put your Souffle dish into the oven to preheat for at least 5 min

Add the egg yolks

  • You must be very careful not to cook the egg yolks (like scrambled eggs). Mom taught me to take ½ cup of the roux and add it slowly to the yolks, mix very well and add back into the roux while constantly stirring
  • You must keep the roux slightly warm, but not hot (it will cook!), so that it will incorporate the yolks and at this stage you add the cheese and you want it to melt so that you are left with a silky runny paste. Take the mixture off the heat.

Take your dish out and butter it very well. Set aside.

Beat the whites

  • Getting the whites just right is very important. You want them ‘just’ stiff. If you over beat the egg whites they will not mix that well and you will use too much force when mixing the whites and the batter which will lessen the lift of the Souffle. Do not let the egg whites sit.

Make the Souffle

  • Once your whites are ready, pour your warm roux and yolk mixtures into the whites
  • Using a large spatula, fold (don’t beat) the two parts into each other, lifting from the bottom. Go slowly, always lifting up from the bottom. Do not push your spatula down into the mixture.
  • This process should not take long and be very careful not to over mix but at the same time make sure that you do not have chucks of egg white in the batter. This is why you do not over beat the whites as part of the mix becomes very stiff and does not mix well.

  • Take a small amount of flour and completely dust the (inside) buttered Souffle dish
  • Slowly pour the mixture into the dish and scrape the bowl with the spatula

  • Evenly sprinkle 1 tbsp of cheese on top
  • Gently slide into the oven and cook for 35 minutes.
  • DO not open the oven while cooking!
  • Watch the magic!
  • At 35 minutes, use a thin BBQ skewer to push into the center of the Souffle. If it comes out clean, it’s done. A few minutes over cooked is better than any minutes under cooked!
  • Take out and serve immediately

 

I really enjoy the bake time of Souffle, as it gives me time to get a salad made and clean the kitchen. Basically once dinner is eaten there’s very few dishes!

 

As always, please let me know if you do not understand any of these steps of if I’ve missed anything. Happy cooking!

7 responses to “My Mom’s Classic Cheese Souffle

  1. I’ve made cheese souffles (and other souffles) for the last 50+ years (I’m 70!), based on a recipe in an ancient, falling apart soft cover Cordon Bleu cookbook that my mother gave to me. I loved cooking from an early age… she not so much so was happy for me to take over in the kitchen when living at home. My souffles are perfect every time and recipe proportions essentially the same as yours. My method is slightly different but follows the key points (yolks into warm bechamel and don’t cook!). I never butter the souffle dish as I was always told it might stop the souffle from rising. I’ll try buttering and then dusting with flour as your suggest – might make clean up easier! And we like a little bit of “softer” souffle in the middle rather than totally cooked through. Always a spectacular dish to present at the table and loved by the whole family when growing up… and now by my husband and me, and our guests at home. Thanks for the great Blog.

    1. Thanks for the note, Patricia. I fine it interesting how you cook it softer. My mom was (is) very particular about her eggs and fully cooked was a must! So that’s where I got it from. I’m glad you liked the blog and thank you for taking the time to read it even though you’re more seasoned than I am! Please share a picture with me next time you make one. Best wishes. Jed

    1. Hi Marie, you add the cheese right after you’ve blended in the egg yolks. (It’s the ‘add the yolks’ method). Keep it warm!! Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks! Jed

  2. Thank you for the great recipe! My own Mom made a perfect cheese souffle back in the day (she’s 99 now and doesn’t cook), and this recipe is the closest one I have seen to her masterpiece. We have a gathering in a couple of weeks and this will be the highlight. I will practice once or twice, of course!

    1. Hi Martin, I’m so happy that this was a timely recipe for you. Please share some picks with us as you’re practicing and let me know if you need any help along the way! Have fun!! Jed

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