This recipe makes a large pot of beans but the leftovers hold up well to freezing for future needs, such as Black Bean Dip (page 264).
Soaking the beans prior to cooking would speed up the cooking time but is optional. To soak beans wash beans checking carefully for shriveled beans and rocks. Cover and soak for an hour to overnight. Be sure to pour off the soaking water, rinse well and start the cooking process with clean water. Add water to large pot over medium-high heat and add beans. Bring beans to a boil for 10 minutes, skimming off any foam that collects on top. Add onion and jalapeño pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, about 45 minutes, until beans are close to being tender. Add salt plus tomatoes and partially cover the top of the pot. Turn heat down to low and continue to simmer until beans are tender. Turn off heat, cover and let beans sit until ready to serve.
Overall cooking time depends on the age of the beans and the hardness of your water.