Put the beans in a big pot with the water, and other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook partially-covered for about 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add salt to taste during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
If using a ham bone, as I did, pull any bits of meat off the bone and add them to the beans. The beans will turn a darker shade as they’re cooked, as mine did.
Serve warm, drained of most of their liquid (which makes a nice base for soup), alongside braised or roasted meats, or poultry.