1(about 1 ounce) ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
1/2cupwhite onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2teaspoonskosher or sea salt, divided, or more to taste
3tablespoonssafflower or corn oil
1poundcooked pinto beans plus 2 cups of their cooking liquid, or 2 14-ounce cans cooked pinto beans plus 2 cups water
3cupschicken broth, vegetable broth or water
1/2cupMexican style cream
1cupcrumbled Cotija cheese
1 1/2cupscrumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips
1ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, diced, deep fried for a few seconds
1avocado, peeled, seeded, meat scooped out and diced, optional
Place the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile in a saucepan. Cover with water, and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes are completely cooked through and ancho chile is rehydrated.
Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid, the white onion, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the pureed tomato mixture and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and thickens in consistency.
Meanwhile, rinse your blender or food processor, then add the pinto beans and 2 cups of their cooking liquid (or water, if using canned beans) and puree until smooth.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir the bean puree, broth and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into the thickened tomato mixture. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup has seasoned and has a creamy consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn off the heat, as it thickens quickly.
Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a tablespoon of the cream and top with some cheese, a handful of crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips, a few fried ancho chile crisps and some diced avocado. You can also place the garnishes in bowls on the table to let your guests decide how much of each garnish they want to add to their bowls.
The soup itself may be cooled and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because this soup thickens a bit as it cools, you may need to add some chicken broth or water to thin it out when you reheat it.