I made my first cheese soufflé recently, tinkering with a Deborah Madison recipe, and it was astoundingly delicious. It tasted like the creamiest, richest scrambled eggs…only different somehow. Despite the various steps involved in making a soufflé, it wasn’t difficult to prepare. You should serve this immediately for the best presentation (i.e. before it collapses), but it will reheat just fine a day or two later. It just won’t be quite as pretty.
1 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
Aromatics: 4 large slices onion, 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 2 crushed cloves garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
4 eggs, separated, plus 2 extra egg whites
5-7 oz cheese–Deborah Madison suggests goat cheese, crumbled; I used aged white cheddar, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a dish for the souffle. I used a 2 1/2-quart round Corningware dish. Slowly heat the milk with the aromatics and 1/2 tsp salt in a saucepan. Turn off the heat when it’s near boiling and set aside to steep while you separate the eggs.
Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat for a minute, then pour in the heated milk through a strainer. Whisk quickly. It should thicken immediately. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir a little of the hot base into the egg yolks. Whisk them back into the sauce and stir in the cheese. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Whip the egg whites until they’re nearly stiff, then fold them into the base and transfer the whole to the prepared dish. Bake in the center of the oven until puffed and golden but just a little wobbly when you shake the dish, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately, including both the crust from the sides and the “sauce” from the center. Serve by itself (it’s very filling!), or alongside wine-braised lentils. Serves 4 generously.