Anthony Bourdain's Torch Tip For Crispier French Onion Soup

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When home cooks are hungry for food made "the right way," there's a pretty good chance they're turning to the wisdom of Anthony Bourdain. Just flip through a few pages of the prolific chef-slash-writer's "Les Halles Cookbook" and you'll see what we mean. The collection of elevated traditional French recipes boasts the likes of roasted veal short ribs, escargot aux noix, and foie gras au pruneaux. But, the Bourdain recipe we're taking a cue from today is a bit more on the accessible side.

French onion soup is one of few dishes to be as sophisticated as it is simple. (Leave it to French cooking.) It is flavorful yet understated, and the star of the show is the soggy-crispy slab of cheese that tops it all like a regal crown of timeless culinary stardom. Bourdain had one particular tip for getting it extra crispy: Break out the blow torch. It's a staple in professional kitchens for a reason, and it can be especially helpful for a home cook whose "stove is not the greatest," as the chef noted, via The Food Dictator.

If this is your first time cooking with a propane torch, French onion soup conveniently requires very little by way of technique. As Bourdain instructed, "Once the mound of grated cheese starts to flatten out in the oven, remove each crock and, with a propane torch, blast the cheese until you get the colors you want."

Fetch the fire, quoth Bourdain

"A propane torch is a very handy-dandy piece of equipment, especially if your stove is not the greatest," continued Bourdain. "Nearly all professional kitchens have them; they're not very expensive and they can be used for a variety of sneaky tasks, such as easily caramelizing the top of crème brûlée or toasting meringues." For such an impressive tool, propane torches are not difficult to find online. The Bernzomatic Max Performance Torch Kit packs major heat, and you can adjust the size and shape of its flame to fit your dish's needs. On the cheaper end, the Iwatani PRO2 is an affordable, compact butane model.

Still, a kitchen torch is an investment of cabinet space and money (somewhere around $40 to $70), and if you're realistically only going to use it for the occasional crock of French onion soup, you might have some doubts about the splurge. Rest assured — the one-of-a-kind chef kept non-torchies in mind with an alternative. "Your broiler sucks. Your oven isn't much better. Can't find those ovenproof crocks anywhere. And you ain't ponying up for a d**n propane torch, 'cause your kid's got pyromaniac tendencies," joked Bourdain. If this is you, he recommended toasting Gruyère cheese over leftover baguette slices on a sheet pan and floating those on the finished soup as a crispy crown garnish instead.