I give the original recipe three stars because of the chicken broth. Onion and apple marry well with beef broth, especially if one calls this French Onion Soup, fall twist or not. I made it with beef broth, cut the apple cider to 3/4 cup, and used gala apples so as not to make this too tart. I seasoned the onion/apple mixture with 1 1/2 tsp. of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I also added a tablespoon of flour to the apple and onion mixture 30 minutes before adding the liquids. I think the brandy was nice, but next time I'll use something that doesn't reduce to such a sweet flavor, like a dark and smoky cabernet. I also omitted the sugar from the bread all together, as I felt this would be too sweet and overpowering to the savory flavors of this soup. I also used a mixture of gruyere and gouda. With these small tweaks this is a 4 1/2 star recipe.
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I give the original recipe three stars because of the chicken broth. Onion and apple marry...