You will need a large pot with a lid. Rinse beans in cold water to clean, then place in large saucepan, cover with 3 to 4 inches of cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, drain off water, and cover beans again with cold water to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Put back on heat. As water heats, add tomatoes, scallions, oil, celery, garlic, black pepper, and basil. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 2 to 3 hours, until beans are cooked and tender. Check beans every so often to ensure that they aren't running dry. Add more water if necessary. Once beans are cooked, add salt, and bring back to a rolling boil for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken. Set aside until ready to serve, then reheat, and transfer to serving dish. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkling of grated cheese and of freshly ground black pepper. Put out pepper and extra cheese so guests can adjust flavorings as they wish.
Recipe courtesy of Alford and Duguid