The other night I decided to be bold and make a spinach soufflé for dinner. It was maybe not the best idea for a work night, since it took me about 2 hours to make. I was determined to try a recipe from “Bon Appétit, Y’all” by Virginia Willis and I have never made a soufflé before. It is a great cookbook because it combines cooking from the South and from France. I have broken out this post into three main phases explaining how to make a Twice-Baked Spinach Soufflé.
Phase 1: Spinach
To start the soufflé, make sure you have more than (6) 8-oz ramekins because the mixture makes more than you think. After preparing the ramekins, I started on the shallots. I have never worked with shallots before and I learned that when it asks for one shallot, it is referring to the whole entire bulb, not one clove. Be warned, the shallots make you cry just as much as onions. Once the shallot is all chopped up, it is a good idea to prepare the garlic so as not to feel rushed throughout the process. I have a garlic rocker and it is amazing! It helps limit the smell of garlic on my fingers. After all of the items are prepared and the spinach is thawed, it is time to sauté the shallots. They really do become translucent, which means they have softened. Next, add in the garlic until fragrant along with the spinach and spices. The spinach will begin to absorb the liquids in the pan. Set this aside to use later.
Phase 2: Béchamel Sauce
A béchamel sauce is a white sauce started with butter and flour to thicken the milk. The recipe called for a heavy bottom pan, but I just used my stainless steel one. First, melt the butter in the sauce pan and then use a whisk to combine the butter with the flour until foaming. Be careful to not let the butter and flour get too browned—not more than a minute. Warm the milk in the microwave before adding it to the sauce and then bring to a boil. After it gets to a boil, make sure to keep stirring. Once thickened, add the spices. At this point, the recipe calls for keeping two-thirds of the sauce for the soufflé and save one third in another sauce pan for the cheese sauce.
Now the spinach comes back into play and we pour it into the two-thirds béchamel sauce. Once the spinach is mixed into the cream sauce, I taste tested to adjust the seasonings. It is like a creamed spinach flavor at this point. To separate the egg yolks from the whites, I hover over one bowl for the whites as I pour the egg yolk from one shell half to the other. This helps get all of the egg whites into one bowl and then pour the yolk into its own bowl. Keep the egg whites for the third phase! For the creamed spinach, I added in one yolk at a time while stirring in between. Set this aside to begin Phase 3.
Phase 3: Soufflé
In the mixer, beat the egg whites and add a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Refer to the Mixed Berry Pavlova article for some meringue tips. Pour 1/4 of the egg whites into the creamed spinach and whisk until well combined. This helps lighten the spinach mixture so as not to deflate the rest of the egg whites. Now, pour the creamed spinach over the egg whites and fold until smooth. Be careful when you fold the soufflé. Once fully combined, I used a cookie scoop to get the mixture into the different ramekins. It helped prevent spilling the soufflé mixture. You put them in the oven until puffed and browned. There is a myth that loud noises will scare (delate) the soufflé, but the only thing you need to keep in mind is to minimize the opening and closing of the oven door.
Once the soufflés have cooled down a little bit, it is time to flip the soufflés into a casserole dish. This is the part that did not go well for me. I attempted to flip the soufflé and half of it fell out into the casserole dish and the other half stuck in the ramekin. I then put the soufflé back together in the ramekin, since they would not fall out in one piece. I figured it would still taste the same in the ramekin.
The last step is the cheese sauce for on top of the soufflé with the leftover béchamel sauce. Unfortunately, I could not get the sauce to the same consistency as earlier because it was off the heat for too long. Because of this I could not pour the cheese over the soufflé. The soufflé tasted very much like an egg dish and it needed some more flavor, so I would recommend adding the gruyère cheese to the inside instead of on top. I would also recommend reducing the amount of spinach unless you are a huge fan of it. I wish after all the time it took to make the soufflé, it tasted as good as it looked.