In a large pot, heat the butter or oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sugar. Sauté until the onions are very tender & caramelized, about 40-50 minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking or burning.
Now add the garlic and thyme. Sauté 30-60 seconds.
Add the red wine and turn heat up to bring to a simmer. Now reduce heat and gently simmer on medium-low for about 10-15 minutes, or until the wine has evaporated.
Stir the flour into the onions. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 1 minute. Stir constantly so the flour doesn't burn.
Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Turn heat up to to get things moving and turn right down to gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Now's a good time to prepare the "mozzarella" cheese. Drain cashews and discard water. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Now pour mixture into a small pot and place over medium heat. Stir often, so it doesn’t stick or burn. Scrape the sides and bottom as needed. The cheese will start to thicken up and get slightly stretchy. This whole process should take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
When the soup is done, remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Add more if needed.
Heat the broiler to high. Carefully ladle the soup into oven-safe crocks or bowls. Fill halfway, and place 1-2 slices of toasted baguette into each bowl. Now add more soup, pouring directly over bread. Make sure not to overfill the bowls. Now top each baguette slice with a big scoop of cheese and place the bowls in the oven. I placed a big piece of parchment paper under the bowls. Sometimes the cheese melts over, so it avoids mess in your oven.
Broil for 2-3 minutes to slightly brown and melt the cheese. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
To soften cashews faster, boil water in a small pot and remove from heat. Add cashews and cover for 15-20 minutes.
Not all wine is vegan and may contain egg whites. However, there are many that are vegan. Here is a vegan wine directory.
Leftover cheese can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days. Just reheat to make it soft and stretchy again. You can add a splash of 'milk' if it's too thick. If you'd like to skip the cheese step, you can use stretchy store-bought vegan cheese. Daiya, Chao and Follow Your Heart make delicious vegan cheese. Just slice and place on top of the soup. Broil for 2-3 minutes to melt.
*Cheese adapted from Vedged Out. You can find more delicious recipes on their page.