Jacques Pepin’s maman‘s recipe for Cheese Soufflé is as good as advertised! No words can describe the experience of eating it, but what’s more surprising is how easy it is to make! Paired with Citrus Salad for some flavor contrast.
This Cheese Soufflé is amazing
I don’t suppose it comes as a shock to anyone, but this Jacques Pepin recipe is absolute gold. I had my heart set on making this recipe as soon as I finished watching the video Food52 made with Chef Jacques about his maman’s Cheese Soufflé. My mouth started watering when I saw the finished product and I thought to myself, ‘Yup. I’m going to make this.’
I had never made cheese soufflé before. But since I have made a bunch of dessert soufflés, I noticed the process for this particular soufflé was different. It did not require me to separate the eggs and whip the whites separately. It did not require me to fold the whites into the main mixture either.
This is pretty standard procedure for pretty much every soufflé recipe I’ve ever made. But with this recipe, you literally just mix the eggs right into the béchamel sauce, add in the cheese, then pop the whole thing into the oven. I mean, who am I to doubt that this would work?
Now that I have actually made and devoured this Cheese Soufflé, I find that I cannot think of words to properly describe how delicious this was. I will say however: If ever there was one recipe worth splurging on the ever-expensive Gruyere for, this is it. I would literally stock up on Gruyere just so I can make this over and over, because this is an incredible Cheese Soufflé. And damn it, it’s also incredibly easy.
You actually don’t have to use Gruyere as any Swiss cheese would do, but for me, if you’re making this anyway, might as well shoot for the best cheese option. That’s Gruyere for me. You also want to make sure to buy good parmesan cheese then grate it yourself. Do not use the packaged pre-grated stuff! You will thank yourself for it, especially when it comes to this Cheese Soufflé. Using good cheese is half the work done already.
When this soufflé comes out of the oven, it’s very puffy. After a few minutes it sinks back down, and that’s normal. I probably could have toasted the top part of the soufflé just a little bit more, but as it is it was already rather satisfying. The toasted cheese crust on top gives way to this amazing melt-in-your-mouth soufflé body that’s creamy, packed full of flavor, and just… Incredible. I literally had one of those moments where I heard angels sing in the background after I took my first bite. It’s that good, and I’m not even exaggerating here.
Citrus and cheese
I spent some time thinking about what to pair with this Cheese Soufflé that would not be typical. I didn’t want to do green leafy salads– all I knew was that I wanted something tart. Something that would give one’s tastebuds a break from something rich like a cheese soufflé. The answer came to me when I saw that my mom had bought quite a lot of Cara Cara oranges. Apparently, it’s in season around this time. In the end, I circled back to the realm of salad, but it was a Citrus Salad this time!
This recipe is from New York Times. We don’t typically eat salads that’s purely made of citrus so this was a really refreshing change! The dressing is sweetened with honey and it does a great job balancing the tang from the red wine vinegar. I love that the dressing doesn’t overpower the natural flavors of the citrus.
Ideally, you want to use a combination of citrus varieties in this salad so you get different degrees of sweet and tart. I chose to go with all-Cara cara because that was what we had, and while the salad ended up tasting kind of one-note it was still good. Cara cara oranges are yummy on their own anyway!
Just to clarify: You don’t necessarily have to make these recipes together, but know that this salad paired really nicely with the soufflé!
Some final recipe notes
- Don’t forget to coat your baking dish with butter and grated parmesan. This will help your soufflé have something to cling to as it rises.
- Stir the béchamel sauce constantly as you add the eggs gradually. Moving the mixture around constantly will ensure that the eggs are incorporated smoothly before it has a chance to scramble. Add the eggs gradually so the mixture is not overwhelmed.
- Invest in good Swiss cheese and parmesan cheese. This is a cheese soufflé, therefore the primary flavor is cheese. If you don’t use good cheese, the experience will be significantly different. I use Gruyere cheese when I make this. It’s worth the splurge, in my opinion. Don’t use pre-grated cheeses for this recipe. You will thank yourself later.
- The soufflé is at its puffiest fresh out of the oven. It will stay puffy only for a few minutes but will sink back down quickly, so serve immediately! Even if the soufflé sinks down, the texture remains heavenly– creamy and melt-in-the-mouth. Delicious!
- Feel free to switch to top heating during the last 5 minutes to brown the top of the soufflé more. I kind of regret not doing this actually. I would’ve preferred a bigger toasted surface area. Good thing the soufflé is still excellent at just this level of toasted.
Jacques Pépin’s Cheese Soufflé
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional to butter a 5- to 6-cup gratin dish
- 4 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 extra-large (or 6 large) eggs, at room temperature
- 2½ cups (200 grams) grated Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyère , (before grating, set aside three 2-x-3-inch slices for garnish, if desired)
- 3 Tablespoons minced or chopped chives or green onions
- Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 5- to 6-cup gratin dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with half the Parmesan. Set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 6 Tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and mix well with a whisk. Cook for about 10 seconds, then add in all the milk. Stir with the whisk until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. (Make sure to slant the whisk and run it around the bottom edges of the pan as you stir.) It will become thick and smooth.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the salt and pepper. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes so it won’t be too hot for the eggs.
- Into a separate bowl, break the eggs and beat well with a fork. Whisking constantly, gradually mix the eggs into the slightly cooled sauce, followed by the cheese and chives/green onions. Mix well to combine.
- Pour mixture into the buttered gratin dish. Sprinkle the surface evenly with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan. Arrange the 3 slices of Gruyère in a circle in the center, if using. (You can also set this aside at room temperature for several hours to cook later, or refrigerate to bake the next day. Make sure to bring back to room temperature before baking. Add the toppings/garnish just before baking as they will sink.)
- Bake soufflé for 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffy and well browned on top. Although it will stay inflated for several minutes, soufflé is best served immediately. We enjoyed it with some Citrus Salad (recipe below) on the side.
Watch how it's made
- The Citrus Salad is an optional side for the Cheese Soufflé. I do quite recommend the pairing though!
- Use a combination of citrus fruits for best flavor. I would say a combination of blood oranges and tangerines will give you different levels of tartness and sweetness. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use just one citrus variety if you wish.
- Use the right knives when working on the citrus to save time. To peel the citrus, use a small paring knife. For slicing, a regular chef’s knife works best. Make sure it’s sharp so you can slice the fruit into wheels without putting too much pressure on the fruit and accidentally squeezing out the juice.
Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing
- 3 to 4 citrus fruits , (ie. pink grapefruit, tangerines, navel orange, etc.)*
- ½ small red onion (or 1 shallot) , chopped
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon honey
- Lime or lemon juice, to taste
- Pinch dried basil or other dried herb
- Peel citrus, removing as much pith as possible, and slice into wheels. Remove any seeds. Layer fruit on a serving dish. Sprinkle with salt and garnish with chopped onion.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, lime/lemon juice and dried herb, until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and serve with the Cheese Soufflé (recipe above).
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