In a large stock pot add the drained beans, the onion, 4 garlic cloves, bay leaves, 1/2 bell pepper, cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil and skim off foam.
Reduce the heat, cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for one hour or until beans are tender. Add water to keep the beans from drying out. Remove the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and bell pepper and discard.
SOFRITO: Brown the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Drain the bacon. Pour off the fat from the pan except for 1 teaspoon.
Add olive oil and remaining sofrito ingredients, cooking over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir the sofrito into the beans, along with the SEASONINGS. Continue simmmering until beans are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste before serving. Serve with hot cooked white rice.