Preparation / Directions:
Rinse the beans in a colander and pick out any stones, debris, or funky-looking beans. Place the beans in a large bowl and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak for 8-12 hours.
OR: quick-soak by placing the picked-over beans in a large saucepan and cover by 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat; let stand for 1 hour.
OR: Use fresh cannellini beans, cooking with vegetables just until tender, 20-25 minutes.
Combine the beans, celery, onion, garlic, thyme and the 2 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover reduce heat and simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. Drain well, season with salt.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yields about 8 cups cooked beans.