Asparagus and gruyere souffle will start your springtime supper party in impressive style. Try Philippa Davis' recipe

Asparagus and gruyere souffle is an impressive starter and makes great use of our home-grown asparagus, which is currently in season and absolutely delicious.

If you aren’t confident enough to attempt the asparagus and gruyere souffle when you have guests for supper, there are many different ways to incorporate asparagus into at least one course. Try asparagus and almond soup for a less high maintenance starter.

ASPARAGUS AND GRUYERE SOUFFLE

Early on in my career, I had to make asparagus souffles for 14 guests in an old, unreliable oven. They then had to be carried through four rooms in a draughty house littered with spaniels to the dining-room by a butler who was no Usain Bolt. Since then all my souffle-making experiences have seemed a walk in the park.

Serves 4 as a starter

  • 40g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 20g parmesan finely grated (plus a little extra)
  • 170g asparagus (tender parts only)
  • 40g plain flour
  • 140ml whole milk
  • 40g finely grated gruyère
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Pinch of fine sea-salt

You will need four ramekins. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Have ready a kettle full of boiled water and a dish to make a bain-marie to fit the ramekins. Grease the ramekins with the extra butter then sprinkle with the extra parmesan.

Blanch the asparagus for four minutes in salted boiling water until barely soft, drain and blitz in a processor until smooth.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the flour. Stir well then slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously. Cook for a couple of minutes; the mix should be thick. Take off the heat and stir in the cheeses then the egg yolks and asparagus purée.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of fine sea-salt until they form firm but not stiff peaks.
Gently fold the egg whites into the asparagus mix in three stages.

Carefully spoon into the ramekins, level off the top and run your finger around the rim.

Place the ramekins in the bain- marie and place on the bottom shelf of the oven. Turn the heat down to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and bake for 14 minutes. Eat immediately.