☰ menu   

There’s No Dish I’d Rather Make Than Edna Lewis’ Cheese Soufflè to Honor My Mom

“A mother’s love is indescribable, and if I’m being honest, we can never do enough to repay them.”

Few gifts measure up to the labor and thoughtfulness of cooking for Mother’s Day. When contemplating what to serve for special occasions, I often reach for an Edna Lewis cookbook to point me in the right direction. I know I’ll fall into a spring of recipes carrying profound legacies, and that’s just what my mom deserves.

My mother finds solace in comforting, home-cooked meals. I tend to those preferences on Mother’s Day and pull out my ramekins to whisk Lewis’ cheese soufflè into fruition. Much of the southern chef’s culinary perspective preaches wholesome, delicious food while fostering an understanding of where your ingredients come from. This philosophy doesn’t directly translate to becoming a farmer’s market snob, but it does encourage you to dig deep into your diasporic history and appreciate the efforts of growers and makers. 

In the words of Lewis from her cookbook In Pursuit of Flavor, “Whatever you do, be sure to use real cheese when you make a soufflè—never make one with processed cheese.” Since I assumed an editorial role with culture and moved to the Green Mountain state, my fridge never fails to harbor locally sourced and responsibly produced cheeses. While I’m no hater of a nostalgic Kraft slice—especially when lighting up burgers on the grill—the more I’ve maneuvered through the professional dairy space, the more I’ve grown an appreciation for the care and dedication that goes into cheesemaking

So when I stumbled upon this intricate recipe, it offered the perfect way to use the delectable wedges and wheels hanging out in my crisper. Lewis recommends combining sharp cheddar or Gruyère into the mixture of butter, flour, milk, and egg yolks. I peeked into my fridge and admired my inventory: Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm and Good Old Gouda made by Cobb Hill. In Lewis’s cookbook, she reminisces about growing up near Jersey cows in Virginia, which supplied her with milk and cream for cereal and baking projects. Lewis shares, “We did not make our own cheese but we bought the most wonderful-tasting hunks of cheese from the general store for tasty custards and for eating plain.”

Lewis’s admiration for her proximity to ranches and dairy affirms my feelings as I experience the same joyous emotional culinary encounters in Vermont. I’m a third-generation city girl unlearning the ethos that food needs to travel countless miles to get to my fridge. These misunderstandings stem from generations of living in food deserts. Even my mother and grandmother spent their entire lives in communities designed to make it extremely difficult to access farm-fresh dairy or other ingredients, for that matter. 

Even amidst these systemic barriers, growing up, I hold dear the memories of my mom and mam’ma spending their last dimes foraging for cheesy surprises for me. If my grandmother got lucky with a scratch ticket, she’d scoop my siblings and me up to get steak and cheese subs. During holidays, my mother would turn a blind eye to the fancy wedges I’d toss in her grocery cart for my famous Haitian mac and cheese. 

Now, with those maternal legacies in my court, when faced with the opportunity to shower my mom in appreciation, I reach for cheese nurtured with care and grown right in my backyard to fuse into my own culinary creations. 

Yes, this soufflè requires labor, but as I grate the gouda and crumble the blue cheese into my warm milk bath, I instantly feel reminiscent and grateful for all the sacrifices my mom endured. I take steps to repay her by gently folding soft egg whites into the batter, intentionally embarking on this critical step with care, like many cheesemakers approach their work. While watching the soufflè rise in the oven, I take in Lewis’s legacy of pursuing good flavor and wholesome cooking—and weave that into my culinary prowess as a food writer. I reflect on how this career started and continues to succeed because of my mom’s nurturing spirit and support. 

A mother’s love is indescribable, and if I’m being honest, we can never do enough to repay them. However, we can still express our gratitude in simple yet heartfelt ways, like surprising them with fluffy delights to add a glimpse of joy (and deliciously cheesy bites) to their day. 

Get the full recipe for Edna Lewis’ cheese soufflè here.


Ashia Aubourg

Ashia Aubourg is culture's Assistant Digital Editor. She received her BA in Food Studies and Policy Studies from Syracuse University, where she researched components that make up equitable food systems. She previously held print and digital roles at Food & Wine, Cuisine Noir, America's Test Kitchen, and others, where her writing unearthed underrepresented narratives within food, travel, and culture. Before starting her writing career, she held food policy and social impact roles across various nonprofits and companies. Ashia currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Leave a Reply