Updated: Sep 7, 2020
by Gill Meller from Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower (Quadrille)
Photography: Andrew Montgomery
Is the soufflé on the brink of extinction? It’s certainly been on the endangered list since I started cooking, over 20 years ago. You’ll occasionally spot one, or if you’re lucky a small group of them (known as a troupeau de soufflés), living off the kindness of a few diners. This image, by food photographer Andrew Montgomery, shows one of the rarest and most beautiful soufflés ever documented. Please pledge your support today.
50g (1¾oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp polenta
2 corns on the cob
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
100ml (3½fl oz) vegetable stock
100g (3½oz) smoked cheddar
Pinch of smoked paprika
4 eggs, separated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan/415°F/gas mark 6–7.
Grease a 15cm (6in) soufflé dish generously with butter, then sprinkle in the polenta and rotate the dish to ensure it is evenly coated.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Strip the husks and the silks away from the cobs and cut away the hard stems.
Drop the cobs into the water and cook for 4–8 minutes, or until the kernels come away with ease.
Lift the cobs from the water and allow them to cool.
Using a sharp knife, slice away the tender kernels from the cobs.
Place a smaller pan over a medium heat and add the butter.
When it’s hot, add the onion, garlic and rosemary and season with some salt and pepper.
Cook the mixture, stirring regularly, for about 6–8 minutes, until the onion is beginning to soften.
Then, add three quarters of the corn kernels and all of the vegetable stock and bring to the simmer. Cook for 3–4 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Tip the sweetcorn mixture into the jug of a blender and whiz until you have a smooth, thick purée. Spoon the purée into a large mixing bowl.
While it’s still warm, stir in all but a scattering of cheese, along with the remaining corn kernels, the smoked paprika and the egg yolks.
Use a clean whisk to beat the egg whites in a bowl into soft, pillowy peaks – they should just hold their shape.
Take a metal spoon and gently stir the whipped whites into the enriched corn purée, trying to keep things as light and airy as possible.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, then run a knife around the edge (this helps the soufflé to rise up above the rim of the dish to create a ‘top hat’ effect). Scatter over the reserved cheese and bake for 25–30 minutes, until the top is golden and risen and the soufflé has a slight wobble. Serve immediately.