Soak the beans in a large bowl, adding enough cold water to cover the beans by about 4 inches (10 cm). Let stand for 10 to 12 hours. Cannellini, pinto, and navy beans need less soaking (6 to 8 hours), but you can safely soak all beans overnight.
The next morning, rinse the beans under cold water, place them in a large pot, and add water to cover by about 4 inches (10 cm). Bring to a boi