Place beans in a large saucepan. Cover with water 2 inches above beans; soak overnight. Drain.
Bring beans, 2 1/2 cups water, and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Stir in ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.
Bonus: For Jalapeno-Bean Enchiladas, mash beans, and spread evenly on 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas. Roll up, and place, seam side down, in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Top with salsa, shredded cheese, sliced ripe olives, sour cream, and chopped green onions.
For a quicker method, bring beans and water to a boil in a saucepan; boil 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour; drain.