1. Cut the onions into eighths. Remove the inner layers and peel them apart, then cut the outer layers in half and peel them apart as well.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the onions, salt, sugar, and 1?4 cup of the beef broth.
3. Stirring occasionally, gently simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the onions are soft and brown, and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Add the remaining broth and cook until the soup is hot.
5. Cut the baguette into 8 or more 3?4-inch-thick slices.
6. Shred the Gruyére cheese.
7. Ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls about 1 1?2 inches from the top. Place the bread slices on top of the soup (they will float) and sprinkle with Gruyère. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
* To caramelize (brown) the onions and make them sweet and meltingly tender, you must cook them very slowly over low heat.
* The soup bowls tend to slide on the baking sheet, so be careful when putting them in and taking them out of the oven.
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