Our version of this Mexican wonder is so quick to make that you may begrudge the extra time it takes to chop, dice, or slice the various garnishes. You can, in fact, do without them--or choose just a few.
Black beans, often served in a soup or stew, have been a mainstay of Mexican cuisine for thousands of years. Black-bean soup is also popular in the Caribbean, where rum, sherry, or peppered wine is often added toward the end of cooking. We add the sherry somewhat earlier in this version, which combines elements of both traditions.
"Kuri squash has a unique, concentrated sweet flavor that's beautiful in soup," says chef Rick Bayless. (Butternut is a fine substitute.) He adds more layers of flavor with apple, cinnamon and raisiny ancho chile, and even blends in the squash seeds for nuttiness.