My post about making black beans had some readers wondering about the best way to make the beans tender. Melissa Clark, in the current dining section of the New York Times, has the same question herself. And she comes to the same conclusion I did: Don't bother with the soaking.
I'm happy with my beans (I made some last night, in fact), and Clark's Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew sounds like something I could use as the weather gets colder, but what I would really like to know is what the science-and-food writer Harold McGee would have to say about the process of making beans. He's long been a favorite writer of mine, and he has a new book, "Keys to Good Cooking." I'll have to get a copy and see if it addresses this question.