The first step in cooking most dried legumes is soaking them. The traditional method of soaking beans calls for a soak of 6 to 12 hours. After picking the beans over and washing them, you should cover them with tepid water until they're submerged far under the surface of the water. Change the water a few times, especially if your kitchen is warm. There is a shorter way to soak your beans, if you want to be more spontaneous. Pick over and wash the beans, then cover them entirely with hot water in a large saucepan. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, then cover with a lid, remove pot from heat, and let soak for an hour. When ready to cook, rinse the beans (soaked either way) in tepid water. Cover the beans by 2 inches with unsalted cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cover partially. Cook for 60 to 90 minutes, or until beans are soft. The beans should be covered by water at all times; you will probably have to add more water to the beans to keep them completely immersed. Keep a kettle of water at a simmer for this purpose When the beans are done, drain them and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well so that the cheese melts in and the sage is well dispersed. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve warm.;


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