Herby and cheesy soufflé with spinach and red onion

The French word Souffler means to blow, to breathe or to inflate, and like magic, whilst staring eagerly through a grease stained oven (wishing it had been scrubbed properly before) the fluffy egg concoction begins to ‘inflate’. It puffs up, successfully, over the rim of the dish, whilst crisping and bronzing on the outside and keeping decadently oozy in the centre. Getting to tweak this classic dish is such fun, making special seasonal ones like this spring green inspired one, to using different cheeses (we specially love a strong artisan cheese), to punchy interesting flavours that make you stop and think from the combination of ground spices, herbs and ingredients. We specially love the peekaboo style of cooking, when there is an added base/ layer to the dish like this. Since making this, one morning in early March, we have gone on to do many more with an added surprise layer, herby cheesy tops with a base layer of stewed tomatoes, saffron and smoked paprika. Souffles are the perfect vessel for experimenting with. It saddens us that they have had a bit of a bad reputation over the past few decades. We guess it’s due to feeling dated- something our grandmothers might have served at a stuffy feeling 50s dinner party, the very base of the dish screams old school- a béchamel sauce, which is made from heating flour and butter, followed by a steady stream of milk- the staple recipe passed down from generation to generation. To then the sheer fact that they seem like a palaver to prepare and cook. Which they are not! Even the most confident of chefs seem to be intimated by the process, what could be simpler than a thick white sauce flavoured with herbs and cheese and then beaten egg whites folded in? You just need to ensure whoever is eating it is already seated by the time the soufflé comes out of the oven, the whole theatre is in the first 10 minutes before it falls. Make sure you buy good quality organic eggs- If there is one thing we couldn’t feel more passionately about is the heinous horror story of factory farmed eggs, its never worth saving 50p and not buying free range (or better yet organic), its also eggs from chickens that have been pumped with antibiotics (due to being kept in close confinement), which on a large scale affectively promotes antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Our top recommendation is the Legbar eggs, with their deliciously rich bright orange yolks.


    50g butter

    30g flour

    300g milk

    2 bay leaves

    200g grated strong cheese- we used a combo of smoked cheddar, gruyere and comte

    1 tbsp. whole grain mustard



    Parsley (big handful of leaves, of all three finely chopped)

    1 lemon, zested

    4 eggs, separated

    1 red onion, finely sliced

    2 garlic cloves

    1 tbsp chopped thyme

    1 tsp dried chillies

    1 tsp balsamic vinegar

    Two big handfuls washed spinach, roughly chopped.

    1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped walnuts

    40g finely grated parmesan 


preheat the oven to 200

butter your oven dishes, either individual ramekins or a bigger one for sharing. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts in and around the dish, shake out excess onto a plate.

In a saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter with the flour and keep stirring until it starts to colour a little, then pour in the milk, with the bay leaves, and keep mixing until it thickens. Add the cheese and mustard, and take off the heat. Season well. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and cheese and stir.

Whilst you prepare the above, with another pan slowly fry the red onions in a good glug of olive oil, garlic, dried chilli and thyme over a low heat for 10 minutes. Then add the balsamic and allow to caramelise until sticky. Then add the spinach and take off the heat to wilt, with a little squeeze of lemon.

Whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually fold this into your cheesy herby sauce with a metal spoon.

Spoon the spinach into the base of the oven dishes. Followed by the soufflé sauce. And a sprinkling of the remaining walnuts and parmesan and season.

Place in the oven, reduce heat to 160. Cook for 15 minutes. Serves with a zesty salad.