2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 dried bay leaf
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 celery ribs with greens, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3 15-ounce cans black beans
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
8 slices white sandwich bread
½ cup hot pepper jelly or chili sauce, tomatillo or tomato salsa, or taco sauce – whichever you have on hand
4 slices honey-baked ham from the deli counter
4 slices Pepper Jack cheese from the deli counter
4 slices smoked turkey from the deli counter
2 eggs, beaten
A splash of milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup sour cream
2 to 3 scallions, chopped
Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO to the hot pot, then add the bay leaf, jalapenos, garlic, celery, and onions.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the bell peppers and continue to cook. Drain 2 cans of beans and add them. With the remaining can, pour the juice and half the beans into the pot. Use a fork to mash up the beans remaining in the can.
Stir the mashed beans into the pot and season with the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
Add the stock and tomatoes to the stoup and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.
While the stoup cooks, make the Monte cristos: Spread the bread with a light layer of pepper jelly or chili sauce, salsa, or taco sauce,
then build sandwiches using 1 slice each of ham, cheese, and turkey per sandwich.
Beat the eggs with the milk and some hot sauce and season the mixture with a little salt.
Heat a griddle pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the skillet. Dip each sandwich in the egg coating and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side to melt the cheese and warm the meats through.
Ladle up the black bean stoup and top with sour cream and scallions. Cut the monte cristos corner to corner and serve alongside the stoup for dipping and munching.
One thing about this recipe: it calls for way too much hot sauce for my taste. 2 tablespoons in the soup and 2 teaspoons in the sandwich coating in addition to the jalapeno is just too much. I changed the recipe so you can add as much as you want. I also made the bell pepper to be able to be any kind instead of red. The green bell peppers come in packs of 3 and since I need two for another recipe this week, I just went ahead and used the 3rd one for this recipe. They're so much cheaper. I changed the meat and cheese from 8 of each to 4 of each because they were so thick and soggy last time. When I cut it back, the sandwiches turned out so much nicer. I used salsa for the spread of the bread, because that's what I had in my refrigerator. By the way, I've tried this recipe with whole wheat bread, but it is much better with white.
If you noticed, I always chop up the vegetables very finely in the food processor because my husband can't stand little chunks of things like onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. We both really like it when I make it like this, so everyone wins.