To soak the beans using the traditional method, place the beans in a bowl or a pot, pour enough cold water over the beans to cover them, and allow the beans to soak for approximately eight hours. Drain the beans, and rinse them thoroughly in fresh water before cooking them.
Another method, known as the hot soak, speeds up the soaking time while producing reliably tender results, according to the U.S. Dry Bean Council. To use the hot soak method, add the dried beans to a pot, pour in 5 cups of water for each 1 cup of beans, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the beans simmer for two to three minutes, take the pot off the heat, and let the beans soak covered for four to 24 hours. Before cooking the beans, drain them, and rinse them with cool water.
For even faster soaking, add the beans to a pot, pour in 5 cups of water for each cup of dried beans, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it for approximately three minutes. Once the beans are drains and rinsed, they are ready for cooking.
The Los Angeles Times reports that soaking beans may not be necessary. In fact, the article states that soaking beans overnight detracts from the flavor and texture of the beans. Instead of soaking dried beans, simply cook them longer to achieve tender, flavorful results.