2 lbs Marrow bones (not soup bones)
2 tsp olive oil
2 large onions
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup red cooking wine
salt & pepper
8 slices good crusty french bread (not the soft spongy $1/loaf kind)
1/2 lb your favorite white cheese
First, coat the marrow bones in olive oil, both sides. Arrange them in a shallow roasting pan, salt and pepper lightly. Roast in a 400F oven for 45 minutes, turning them over half way through the roasting time. You might also roast some carrots and onions with the marrow bones.
Scrape everything out of the roasting pan into a large stock pot, including any carmelized, blackened or gooey bits, and all of the grease and oil. Cover the bones etc. with two quarts of water, and simmer gently (not a hard boil) for an hour or more. You may need to add another cup of water as it steams off.
Once you have your stock, remove all the large chunks and bones with a big spoon, and then strain the stock through a fine sieve. Let it cool a bit, and spoon off most of the fat. You may want to save the fat for other uses.
Chop your onions fine, and saute over medium heat in olive oil or reserved fat from the stock. After ten minutes or so, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp sugar and continue. Through the course of 20-30 minutes of sauteing the onions should brown nicely but not burn. Crush garlic and saute 1 minute as onions are finishing up.
Add the onions to the stock. Also add 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/2 cup red cooking wine, and salt and pepper to taste. If your beef stock isn't to your satisfaction, you could also add other adjuncts to it (i.e. crappy fake beef boullion) Simmer 1/2 hour until flavors are nicely blended. Taste the soup and make final ammendments to flavor. You may need to add more water if it is too strong, or more salt and pepper if it is lacking.
To serve, toast the bread on both sides. Slice your cheese (I like brie or chevre, though provolone is nice too, or grueyere) and layer over the toast. Toast it again under a broiler until the cheese is gooey. Ladle the soup into bowls and float the toasts on top.