slow cooker black bean soup with cilantro pesto

a couple weeks ago i made these black bean burritos with cilantro lime pesto for dinner, substituting my own black beans for the relatively flavorless version in the recipe. while the beans were delicious as usual, it was the cilantro lime pesto that really was the star. ever since i've been looking for an excuse to top something else with it. 

at the same time, i've been thinking lately that it's time for us to start going meatless one day a week. i know meatless monday is a thing for a lot of people, but at our house, it could be any day of the week. when this black bean soup showed up in my feedly, i knew it would be delicious topped with the cilantro pesto. and it was. 

this meal was perfect for the four of us: jason had his topped simply with cheese; mine was loaded with cheese, avocado, and pesto; i scooped out whole beans for the baby to gobble up before smoothing the soup with my immersion blender; and my toddler ate his topped with cheese. it was a hit all the way around.

slow cooker black bean soup with cilantro pesto
soup adapted from making thyme for health & pesto adapted from practical stewardship
serves 4-6

for the soup:
2 cups (1 pound) dried black beans
14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon worchestershire
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth

for the cilantro pesto:
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
juice of 2 limes
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil

avocado and cheese to top
  1. rinse the black beans and pick out any small rocks. add to the slow cooker along with 2 cups water and the remaining soup ingredients. cook on HIGH for 8-10 hours.
  2. when the soup has finished cooking, lower the heat & remove the bay leaves. use an immersion blender to blend the soup to your liking - blend a small amount to keep it chunky or blend it completely smooth. season liberally with salt to taste. serve topped with pesto, avocado, and cheese.
  3. to make the pesto, add everything except the olive oil to a blender or food processor. add about 1/3 cup olive oil and blend until smooth. add additional olive oil, about a tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency.

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