Over medium heat, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and celery until the onion is lightly caramelized.
Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
Add the bay leaf, red beans with liquid, pepper, thyme, and salt. Add water to create enough sauce to look like a stew (about 1/4 cup).
Simmer the sauce for at least 10 minutes, though the longer you let it simmer, the better it gets. Replace the water as it evaporates. Smash the beans until the sauce thickens, but don’t worry about getting every bean smashed. The sauce should have a lot of texture.
While the sauce is simmering, steam the collard greens. Combine the collard greens with the finished bean sauce. Serve over rice and top with hot sauce.
The Gourmet Touch: Slowly smoke two veggie Italian sausages and slice into thin rounds. Add to the simmering bean sauce, about 5 minutes before it is done. This will give the dish a smoky, spicy flavor.