Start with four onions. I use run of the mill yellow, whatever is on sale at the grocery store onions. Peel and slice.
It looks like a lot of onions, but this is gonna make just four servings of soup.
On low heat (I kept it around a 3 on my gas stove) melt a couple tablespoons of butter and a little bit of olive oil.
Add onions, 3 cloves of garlic, some diced hot pepper and some salt and pepper.
Add some fresh thyme (I throw the whole thing in, not bothering to strip it from the stem), some sage, and couple of bay leaves. Now, just wait, stirring occationally. It takes me about an hour to get the onions nice and sweet and brown.
Check the onions every few minutes and stir.
Stir some more.
The onions are starting to leave crusty brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Scrape them up with a wooden spoon and incorporate them back into the onion mixture. The moisture the onions are releasing will make this relatively easy to do.
Keep stirring and be patient.
At this point, most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off the stems. Go ahead and fish the stems out.
At this point, while the onions are getting close to being done, I gather the liquids I need for the soup. Some cognac (Hennessy), some white white (fancy Italian boxed variety), and some beef stock I reconstituted (Better Than Bullion).
When the onions are completely brown, I add just a splash of Hennessy and let it cook down. (It could be a bad idea to pour directly from the bottle, so most people recommend pouring the amount you are going to use into a glass and then dumping the glass into the pan, just fyi.)
Once that cooks down/evaporates. I add about a 3/4 of a cup of white wine. And let that cook/reduce for a while.
Then I add a couple tablespoons of flour and let it cook for a few minutes until it turns brown and sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Then, I add 4 cups of beef broth slowly, while constantly stirring. Now its time for my secret ingredients. A couple dashes of Worcestershire...
And a heaping teaspoon of whole grain Dijon moutarde. Oui, oui this makes it tres francais. As always, I taste and adjust the seasonings.
I then toasted a little bit of country style sour dough. I used a vegetable peeler to shave some parm on the toasted bread and put in under the broiler til it melted. I seriously doubt any of my bowls are broiler safe, so I do this all on a baking sheet, then transfer the crouton to the waiting bowl of soup. Garnish with parsley et voila! The long amount of time cooking the onions down, combined with the hint of flavors from the cognac, the Worcestershire, and the Dijon give this a complex savory flavor.