Place beans in a bowl and add water to cover by several inches. Cover, refrigerate and allow to sit for 4-6 hours and up to overnight. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans in a colander discarding the soaking liquid.
Heat the olive oil in a medium sized stock pot. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, and cayenne and saute until tender and very fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the black beans, water or stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer, cooking for 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside and allow to cool in the cooking liquid before draining off any remaining cooking liquid.
Remove and discard bay leaves before eating.