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Heat most of the butter or dripping in a pan, then add the onions, sugar and herbs. Season and cook, uncovered, over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for up to 40 mins until sticky and brown. pour in the cider and simmer until reduced by half. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then cook for 20 mins.
To serve, heat the grill to high. Spread the bread on both sides with the remaining butter or dripping, then toast under the grill until golden. Scatter with cheese and place back under the grill until melted. Serve the soup in bowls with a slice of the toast floating in it, scattered generously with parsley.