as a bonus, this is a pretty cheap meal that you will yield leftovers. perfect for the next chilly night when you want to put on your pj's and watch TV.
2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
6 oz shredded Gruyère
Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.
Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a piece of toast in each.
Sprinkle Gruyère to cover tops of crocks. If you have oven-safe crocks, you should place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until bubbly.