Cooking with dry beans is healthy, nutritious and economical, but soaking the legumes can take six to eight hours. If you need to use dry white beans in a recipe right away and don't have the time to soak them overnight, prepare them from their dry state. Cooking the dry beans will be quicker than soaking them first. You can use the beans in your favorite soup or stew recipe after they are cooked.
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour 1 lb. of dry white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern beans, into a 3-qt. Dutch oven or a heavy clay pot with a lid.
Add enough cool water to the pot to cover 1 inch above the beans. Mix in seasonings such as salt, pepper, a bay leaf, two cloves of garlic, one chopped white onion, or dried thyme, if you desire. Securely place the lid on the Dutch oven or pot.
Bake the beans for 75 minutes in the oven. Take the beans out of the oven, stir them, and check their tenderness.
Re-cover the beans and cook them for 15 minute intervals until they are tender. Add 1 cup of hot water after each interval if the beans begin to dry out.