Not wishing to go the supermarket, I surveyed my kitchen cupboards and the fridge for inspiration. I found a big chunk of Gruyere hiding in the freezer, and I had a loaf of delicious sourdough bread. I also had a bag of onions and lots of stock. French onion soup seemed the obvious choice for my dinner.
Melt 3 or 4 T of butter in a pot. Add 4 thinly sliced onions. I use the slicer blade on my food processor for this. It works well and the onions turn out just the right thickness. Sprinkle the onions with 1/2 t sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the onions turn brown and begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add a box (4 cups) of beef stock. Add a few sprigs of fresh parsley and several sprigs of fresh thyme (or a good pinch of dried thyme). Add 2 T of some type of alcohol. I like brandy because I usually have it on hand. White wine works or you might try some cognac. Season broth with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the sprigs of herbs before serving.
While the soup is simmering, toast two to four slices of sourdough (I like the French sourdough from Guglhupf Bakery but my favorite is from La Farm Bakery) under the broiler. Top one side of each slice with a nice pile of shredded Gruyere or other hard, salty cheese. Place under the broiler a few seconds until the cheese melts.
Put the cheesy bread into shallow, wide-rimmed bowls. Ladle the onion soup over the bread, and serve. This recipe serves four.