1handfulfresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and/or thyme
Place beans in a large bowl and add enough cool water to cover by 1-2 inches. Soak overnight, 8-12 hours.
Drain beans, transfer to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with fresh, cool water by 1-2 inches. Add bay leaves, a handful of herbs (cilantro or parsley, if you're making Gallo Pinto), and a few garlic cloves.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until beans are tender throughout. This will take 1-2 hours, depending on size and age of beans.
Add a few pinches of salt to the water when beans are just starting to get tender (adding salt too soon will add to the cooking time). Cool and store beans in their cooking liquid, discarding any aromatics you've added.
1/3 cup dry = 1 cup cooked1/2 cup dry = 1-1/2 cups cooked2/3 cup dry = 2 cups cooked1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked2 cups dry = 5-6 cups cooked