Tomato Souffle

Hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas.  I landed in Dallas a year ago on Christmas and I can’t believe its already a year since. We had a white Christmas last year in contrast to the Christmas this year. I wanted to try something new for Christmas and knew what I wanted to try as soon as I laid my eyes on the recipe for the tomato souffle by Bharathy at Spicy Chilly. I have tasted some of the very best souffles at Rise n^1 – a french cafe in downtown Dallas. The sheer texture of the fluffy, light, warm and flavourful dish makes me swoon at the very thought of them.

A soufflé is a light, fluffy, baked cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savoury main dish or sweetened as a dessert. The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means “to blow up” or more loosely “puff up” — an apt description of what happens to this combination of custardand egg whites.

Every soufflé is made from two basic components:
  1. a French crème pâtissière base/flavoured cream sauce or purée
  2. egg whites beaten to a soft peak meringue

The base provides the flavour and the whites provide the “lift”.  Souffles can be of two kinds : Sweet or Savory flavour. Foods commonly used for the base in a soufflé include jam, fruits, berries,chocolate, banana and lemon (the last three are used for desserts, often with a good deal of sugar). When it comes out of the oven, a soufflé should be puffed up and fluffy, and will generally fall after 5 or 10 minutes (as risen dough does). Soufflés can be made in containers of all shapes and sizes but it is traditional to make soufflé in ramekins. These containers vary greatly in size, but are typically glazed white, flat-bottomed, round porcelain containers with unglazed bottoms and fluted exterior borders.

Try out the this simple savoury souffle recipe on a cold winter evening and enjoy!

Ingredients

Yielded me 4 ramekins upto the brim

Bread Crumbs- 1/2 cup firmly packed (I just ran 2 whole wheat bread in the mixie and got the fine crumbs)

White sauce base
Butter- 45 gms (refer healthier version)
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Plain flour(maida)-2 tbsp
Milk- 1 cup

Flavour
Tomato paste- 3 tbsp
Basil- 1 tbsp, finely chopped (this does give a unique extra Zing to the souffle and see to it you do NOT omit! :))
Eggs- 3, separated

Method
First grease 4 souffle dishes(ramekins) (1/2 cup capacity), sprinkle/dust with bread crumbs and coat the inside well.
Now we first prepare the white sauce and then add the flovour to make the souffle – Melt butter in small saucepan, add finely chopped onion. Stir over low heat for 2 mins (or MW on HIGH for about 2 mins). Cook until onion is soft, it doesn’t have to become brown. Stir in flour and stir over medium heat for a minute (or MW on HIGH for a min). Remove from heat. gradually stir in milk, return to heat, stir over high heat until mixture boils and thickens and reaches a thick sauce like consistency (or MW on HIGH for about 3 mins).
Transfer to large bowl, stir in tomato paste and basil Leaves. Cover the dish and let it stand for 5 mins. Meanwhile break the eggs and separate the white and yolk. Beat the egg yolks slightly and add egg yolks to the onion and milk mixture and mix well.
Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the mixture in 2 batches – i.e take a 1/4 of the egg white mixture and first fold into the tomato mixture to loosen it up and air it. Then add the tomato mixture to the remaining egg white mixture and gently fold taking care to not break the air. The souffle rises based on how airy and fluffy the mixture is.
Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared dishes. Once poured into the ramekins, lightly run your finger through the edges to create a slight depression – this is to make sure that the souflle rises evenly and puffs up neatly like a pillar, else while puffing up, it will overflow the ramekin edges creating a love-handle! This is just a presentation tip 🙂
Bake in the preheated oven at 350F for 20-25 mins or until lightly browned. I had to bake it for 30 mins as one souffle was slightly not set.
After 5 mins in oven :
After 10 mins:
After 15 mins:
After 20 mins:
After 25 mins:
The souffle rose magnificently and was a delight to eat – light, flavourful (the tomato-basil combination is one of our favourite flavours) and simply delightful…Harish was all smiles on having this for dinner!
Bon Appetit 🙂
Tips
1) Some like to have cheese topping on these souffle. If you are a cheese lover, grate some cheese of your choice before the ramekins are placed inside the oven.
2) The tomato-basil is just one combination. You can try your own combination – mint, spinach and cream, artichoke, sun-tried tomato pesto…use your imagination. I have tasted artichoke, spinach, sun-dried tomato pesto(my fav), mushroom truffle to name a few in the savory souffles…For sweet souffle, you can use a flavour of strawberry, chocolate, rasberry, pistachio, bread budding, Vanilla, Grand Marnier…ANYTHING!!!!!
3) Once I baked the souffle for more than 30 mins and the souffles that had risen had deflated though they taste excellent. So I figure that too much of baking could result in the crest falling off.So they need to be taken out when just done – 25 to 30 mins on 350F. To test it they are done – insert a toothpick into a souffle and see if it comes out clean.
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