Should you soak beans before cooking? Yes. Why? To soften them, which reduces cooking time, and to allow some of the gas-generating substances to dissolve into the water, making them easier to digest.
For every pound (2 cups) of beans, add 10 cups of hot water. Most beans will rehydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. Heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour, but preferably four hours or more.
The longer they soak, the more gas-generating properties will dissolve in the water. Discard the soak water before cooking.