Watercress And Gruyère Soufflés

By Sophie Dahl

Souffles seem to strike fear into the most reasonable of hearts. Like so many things in life, to me it's in the pre-empt; if you approach them causally, they tend to work. And if not, pretend it was meant to look like scrambled eggs.

  • Serves: 6


  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus softened butter to coat the ramekins
  • 2 cups/230g grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 small bunch (2 ounces/50g) of watercress, tough stalks removed
  • ¼ cup/30g all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups/300ml low-fat milk
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • Salt and pepper
  • A pinch of nutmeg


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease six 1-cup/250ml ramekins with the softened butter and then coat with ¼ cup/30g of the cheese. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge.
  2. Blanch the watercress quickly in a saucepan of boiling water, remove immediately, and plunge into ice water, and then squeeze out all of the water. Stick the watercress in the blender and purée or chop very finely, then leave it on the side.
  3. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan over low heat and add the flour to make a roux, stirring continuously for about a minute. Add the milk bit by bit, still stirring constantly. Let the sauce bubble for a minute or two and add the remaining cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the egg yolks and season, adding at this point the puréed watercress and the nutmeg.
  4. In a separate very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the whites into the cheese-watercress sauce until combined, taking care not to over-mix, as you want to keep the mixture airy. Fold in the other half of the egg whites.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins and level the tops with a spatula. Run the tip of your thumb around the inside of each dish to make a gap between the soufflé and the rim, which will help the soufflé to rise. Leave the ramekins on the baking sheet and bake for at least 15 minutes, possibly longer. Don’t open the oven to check – resist the urge, however great. If the door is opened, the soufflés will collapse. When the soufflés are golden and majestic, serve immediately and, if they should collapse, you must not. Laugh instead.