4 pounds onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh apple cider
3 cups rich beef stock
1 cup water
3 tablespoons brandy
6 slices francese or ciabatta bread, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, toasted lightly
3 ounces quality blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
In a heavy stockpot, heat the oil until it trembles and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Stir in the cider, broth, water, brandy, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer the soup, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Arrange the toasted bread slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on each slice. Toast the croutons under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat until the cheese begins to melt.
Ladle the soup into bowls and place a crouton in each serving.
YIELD: Makes about 8 cups, or 4-6 servings