RECIPE

Black Bean Stoup and Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches

This stoup gets its distinctive thickness from a combination of whole and smashed beans and its flavor from spices like cumin and coriander. A Monte Cristo is sliced ham, turkey and cheese, dipped in egg and sautéed in butter until the cheese melts, like a cross between grilled cheese and French toast. –RR

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 sprig fresh bay leaves or 1 large dried bay leaf
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery with greens, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cans black beans (15 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hot sauce, divided
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with peppers and onions or stewed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper jelly or: chili sauce, tomatillo or tomato salsa, or taco sauce – whatever you have on hand
  • 8 slices honey baked ham, from the deli counter
  • 8 slices pepper Jack cheese, from the deli counter
  • 8 slices smoked turkey, from the deli counter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped

Preparation

Heat a medium size soup pot over medium-high heat. Add EVOO to hot pot then bay leaves, jalapeño, garlic, celery and onions. Cook 3-4 minutes, then add red peppers and continue to cook. Drain 2 cans of beans and add them. With 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 cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and 2-3 tablespoons hot sauce. Add stock and tomatoes to the stoup and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes over low heat.

While stoup cooks, make the Monte Cristos: spread bread with a light layer of pepper jelly or chili sauce, salsa, taco sauce then build sandwiches using 2 slices each of ham, cheese and turkey per sandwich. Beat eggs with milk and 2 teaspoons hot sauce and season the eggs with a little salt. Heat a griddle pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in skillet. Dip each sandwich in egg coating and cook 3-4 minutes on each side to melt cheese and warm the meats through.

In a small bowl, mix together sour cream and scallions and reserve for topping the stoup. Ladle up black bean soup and top with sour cream mixture. Cut Monte Cristos corner to corner and serve alongside soup for dipping and munching.

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Rachael Ray