Tomato Tuesday: Tomato Soufflé

What would happen if you took your favorite Italian dish — the one with savory tomato, onion, basil, parmesan — and you blew it up?  Well, if you spoke French in this imaginary Italian kitchen perhaps you’d translate “to blow up” into soufflé then voilà you’d have this delicious dish.This recipe for Tomato Soufflé or Soufflé Di Pomodori, is from The Silver Spoon cookbook, Italy’s best-selling cookbook for over 50 years.  Unlike  American cookery books, it doesn’t include a lot of detailed instructions, tips or notes — apparently everyone in Italy knows how to cook.  To help, I’ve added some notes to the recipe in italics.

I offer you this recipe admitting that my soufflé was not cooked completely through.  I’ve done a little research and I think it was a case of not cooking it long enough at the right temperature.   The cooking time for a soufflé is a tricky thing — too long at a high temperature and it burns; too low a temperature and it doesn’t rise correctly.  One strategy for making sure soufflés are cooked throughout is to cook them in small or individual soufflé dishes.  All that being said, I don’t want to discourage you from trying this recipe.  Every oven is different, I suggest you follow the recipe as written, then adjust based on your results.

Even with my less than successful results, the flavor of the cooked portion of this tomato soufflé was so good that I thought it worth sharing with you.  Watch this blog for future updates; it’s a recipe that I’ll be repeating as I work to perfect it.  If you have better results, please let me know what you did or if you have any soufflé tips.

Tomato Soufflé – Soufflé Di Pomodori

Serves 6

1 1/2 Tablespoon butter, plus extra for greasing

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

11 ounces tomatoes, peeled and chopped (remove seeds)

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1/4 cup Swiss cheese, freshly grated

1 quantity Béchamel Sauce (see recipe below)

4 eggs, separated

salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until golden brown (I had to cook my onions at medium to get them golden, I then turned down the heat to low to finish).  Add the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and pepper.  Increase the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until thickened and pulpy. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a soufflé dish with butter.  (In a large mixing bowl add the warm  béchamel.) Stir the tomato sauce, Parmesan and Swiss cheese into the béchamel sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Stiffly whisk the egg whites and fold in.  Spoon into the prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes. (I used a 6 cup soufflé dish.) Lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for 5 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Béchamel Sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cup milk

pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)

salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Pour in all the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil.  Season with salt, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes.  Béchamel sauce should not taste floury.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Taste and add more salt if necessary and season with pepper and/or nutmeg.  If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.  If too runny, return to the heat and add a pat of butter mixed with an equal quantity of all-purpose flour.  For a richer béchamel sauce, replace half the milk with same amount of heavy cream; for a lighter béchamel sauce, add half milk and half water.

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4 responses to “Tomato Tuesday: Tomato Soufflé

  1. I have The Silver Spoon as well, but rarely go to it. Not sure why. I’ll have to crack the tomb open again.

    I know your soufflé didn’t get cooked through, but it sure looks delicious! Just like something I’d love to have for breakfast this morning if I had the time.

  2. There are soo many good tomato recipes in The Silver Spoon I want to try!

  3. I like this! It’ll give me something else to try when the tomatoes begin to ripen (seemingly all at once as it happens every year).

    Stumbled on your site through flickr. It is so true that in Italy, cookbooks give you just the basics and you’re left to your own devices. And this is why not all italians can cook! (very sad, but so true…that’s what mammas are for). I like how italians have adapted to french terms, as with soufflé, but my all-time favorite is the french term for pastry bag – sac à poche!

  4. I’m loving your blog, thanks for the comment. I guess cooking instructions can be like a car’s GPS — it’s easy to become so dependent on them you stop using your brain and common sense.

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