Serve these fragrant black beans over hot rice or wrap them up in a burrito. To make black-bean soup, remove all the bay leaves, then whirl some beans and broth in a blender or food processor until smooth. In the summer, top a bowl of Cuban Black Beans with chopped ripe tomatoes.
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 2 to 5 hours, plus optional 6 to 10 hours soaking time. Makes 20 servings, generous 1/2 cup each.