Mouth-watering Red Leicester toasts are the perfect accompaniment to this fabulous British onion soup
75 g (3 oz) butter
1.1 kg (2 ½ lb) onions, finely sliced
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 tbsp flour
150 ml (¼ pint) cider
1 l (1 ¾ pints) hot chicken stock
1 tbsp brandy
3 thick slices wholemeal bread, cut into triangles
100 g (3 ½ oz) red Leicester, grated
 Melt 50 g (2 oz) butter in a large pan. Gently fry the onions with 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water, covered, over a low heat for 20min. Uncover pan, increase heat to medium and stir in sugar. Cook, stirring often, for 15min until the onions are soft and golden. Stir in the thyme.
 Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook for 1min. Gradually add the cider and boil until almost evaporated. Stir in stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15min. Add the brandy.
 Preheat the oven to 430º F (390º F fan) mark 7. Meanwhile, make the toasts: melt the remaining butter and use to brush both sides of the bread, then put on a baking sheet. Bake for 5min on each side until crisp. Set the toasts aside.
 Preheat grill. Divide the soup among four heatproof bowls and arrange the bread triangles on top. Sprinkle with the cheese. Grill until golden and bubbling. Serve at once.