You may have read about Sparky's famous Swamp Monster Soup, which is basically a broccoli-cheese soup with hard-boiled egg "eyes." I realized that this idea could easily translate into a souffle, and as I looked for a recipe to guide me, I found this one from Cooking Light that looked about right. I tweaked this recipe, eliminating the lemon but keeping the sour cream and adding some cheddar, and came up with an exceptionally tasty light dinner.
Souffles sound scary - but really there are only a few more steps than making a blender-based broccoli-cheese soup. With a little prep, anybody can do this - so, let's see how Sparky does.
I head of broccoli or about 1 lb (you can use frozen broccoli, just rinse it a bit to thaw it)
1/4 cup water
6 scallions, trimmed and washed
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp butter
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup sour cream (I used lowfat, you can use anything but nonfat!)
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
3 additional egg whites (use boxed or just discard the yolks)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar, as needed
1/4 tsp of powdered dried egg whites, as needed
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Additional butter and panko or breadcrumbs for the dish
I first set Sparky to trimming the broccoli and cutting it loosely into small pieces. We then trimmed and loosely chopped the scallions. The white and light green parts of the scallions and the broccoli were added to a large skillet along with the water, covered it and let it steam until the broccoli was electric green and tender, but not mushy. (Reserve the tender green parts of the scallions for later in the recipe.) The contents of the skillet went into our blender jar to cool slightly.
In the same skillet, we cooked flour and butter over medium heat until we had a delicious, nutty-smelling paste. At this point, we added the milk and brought it to a boil, whisking vigorously while the milk thickened. We let it cool and poured this on top of the broccoli and scallions in the blender jar.
While we waited a bit for the milk to cool, Sparky prepared a 2-quart souffle dish by buttering it thoroughly all the way up the sides, and then coating it with panko breadcrumbs by dumping a handful in the bottom and then shaking and rolling it until it coated the sides of the dish. The panko will provide a "ladder" for your souffle to "climb."
We preheated the oven to 325 degrees.
Then Sparky carefully separated the eggs, putting the whites in a large clean bowl for whipping. (Be careful! Don't get broken yolks mixed in your whites - if you do, set them aside for scrambled eggs or omelets and start over with a clean bowl and new eggs.) We then turned back to the blender jar, added the sour cream, blended, and then added the remaining scallion bottoms, the garlic clove, the salt and the egg yolks and pureed the whole thing into a smooth green batter. We poured the batter into a bowl, and once it was cool enough to keep the cheese from melting, we mixed in the shredded cheddar.
This is your souffle "base," which needs to be strongly flavored to counteract the blandness of whipped egg whites. We measured 3 cups of base into a bowl - 1/2 cup per egg white. (If you wind up with extra, save it to mix with milk for hot broccoli soup, but if you wind up with a little less base, it won't really harm your souffle. Too much base, however, will give you something more like a crustless quiche - totally edible, but not as pretty.)
He then used the whisk attachment on our hand blender to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. This step is critical, so if you are having trouble getting beautiful stiff peaks you can try adding the cream of tartar and the powdered egg whites (this may be necessary on a humid day.)
Our master egg-folder mixed a cup of the whites into the bowl of base to lighten it, and then carefully folded in the remaining egg whites until we had a fluffy, pouffy batter. This was poured into the prepared souffle dish - it should be filled to or near the top - and placed in the preheated 325 degree oven - with a cookie sheet on the rack underneath in case the souffle expanded more than we expected. (Convection ovens aren't recommended for souffles - some sources suggest to preheat your oven to 350 and then turn it down to 325 after the souffle is in the oven.)
The souffle baked for 40 minutes, until it was beautifully golden-brown on top but still tender in the middle. We didn't disturb it until the last 15 minutes of baking, where we checked that the top was golden. You want to pull the souffle out while it is still slightly jiggly, but don't wiggle it too much or it will fall. Serve immediately, as the cooler it gets and the less steam it generates, the faster it will deflate.
Isn't it gorgeous? Enjoy!