Soak the beans in water overnight.
Soooooooooooo...if you didn't think yesterday to soak your beans you can do the "quick soak" method, which is to put your beans in a pot covered by at least 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat off and let the pot sit until the water cools down naturally and then pick up the process as if you had soaked the beans overnight.
Strain the beans from the soaking water. Put the beans in a large pot and cover generously with water. Add the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and bacon skin. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans until all the beans are soft, about 1 hour. Add more water if it reduces too much. Test the beans for doneness by doing the 5 bean test. Bite 5 beans, if they are all soft then they are done. Beans do NOT all cook at the same rate so the 5 bean test is important.
When the beans are cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Season the water generously with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and serve. If not using the beans right away, store them in the refrigerator in their liquid.
Beans, beans the musical fruit...
*Due to the soaking time, this is definitely a plan ahead recipe.
Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell