Shrimp Soufflé

Soffiato di Gamheri

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Italian Regional Cookery

Italian Regional Cookery

By Valentina Harris

Published 1990

  • About

This sort of delicately flavoured dish is a legacy of Caterina de’ Medici’s Renaissance cuisine. It was probably transported to France, along with many other superb recipes, when she left Florence as a child bride with her retinue of cooks, in order to teach the French about cooking! In Tuscany you would most probably find this dish featured as a first course.


  • lb (800 g) cooked brown or pink shrimps
  • pints (1 litre) milk
  • 3 oz (75 g) unsalted butter
  • oz (120 g) plain white flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 8 egg yolks, not mixed together
  • 10 egg whites


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Peel the shrimps carefully, put the flesh to one side and pound the heads and shells in a pestle and mortar to a smooth paste. Alternatively whizz the heads and shells in a food processor for about 2 minutes. Push the paste through a sieve.

Heat the milk until just boiling. Meanwhile, melt about three quarters of the butter in a heavy-bottomed pint (1.6 litre) saucepan and add the flour. Stir together very thoroughly, then gradually pour in the boiling milk. Mix well and cook for about 6 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour the resulting white sauce into a bowl to cool it completely, then stir in the shrimp shell paste, the shrimp flesh, the tomato purée and the Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir all this together very carefully, then stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold very carefully into the shrimp mixture. Butter an 8-portion soufflé dish with the remaining butter, carefully pour in the well-blended mixture and place immediately in the oven to bake for 30–45 minutes or until golden on top. Serve straight away, otherwise the soufflé will flop and sink dramatically!