Vegetarian Frito Bean Chili
1 large white onion
6 garlic cloves
½ bunch cilantro
1 chipotle chiles in adobo, plus 1 tsp. adobo sauce
¼ cup tomato paste
2 15-oz. cans pinto beans
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. chili powder
1 28-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 2 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
1½ cups Fritos or other salty tortilla chips, divided
½ cup sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Prep your ingredients: First, finely chop 1 large white onion. Cut in half from top to bottom. Trim top, then peel onion skin and first tough layer; discard. Leave root end on. Make slices parallel to cutting board, starting close to the board and moving upward. Then make slices lengthwise from top of onion to root end. Slice across onion, again from top to bottom, and you’ll come away with nice little cubes. Run your knife through once more if any pieces are too big. You should have about 2 cups chopped onions. Set aside 2 Tbsp. for serving.
Smash, peel, and finely chop 6 garlic cloves. Separate leaves from stems from ½ bunch cilantro. Coarsely chop leaves; set aside for serving. Finely chop stems. Using a fork, pull 1 chipotle chile from can, then finely chop until a paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl, along with 1 tsp. adobo sauce from can. Add ¼ cup tomato paste. Drain and rinse 2 15-oz. cans pinto beans.
Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, cilantro stems, and 2 tsp. chili powder and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is starting to soften, 5–6 minutes. Add tomato paste mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until brick red and starting to stick to bottom of pan, 2–3 minutes.
Add 1 28-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are cooked down and slightly darker in color, 8–10 minutes.
Add beans, 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 2 tsp. Morton kosher salt, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soup has reduced slightly and flavors have melded, 30–35 minutes. Mash about one-quarter of beans with the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher—this will make the soup thicker and creamier. Stir in 1 cup Fritos (or 1 cup crushed tortilla chips) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 1–2 minutes. Squeeze in juice of 1 lime half, then taste for salt (you may need to add as much as 2 tsp.).
Cut remaining 1 lime half into 4 wedges. Slice 1 avocado in half, carefully remove pit, then crosshatch flesh in its shell. Scoop out flesh with a spoon.
Divide soup among bowls. Top with ½ cup sour cream, avocado, reserved cilantro leaves and chopped onion, and remaining ½ cup Fritos. Season with pepper.