Step 1 Sort the beans to remove any stones. Place them in a bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Soak overnight, changing the water once or twice.
Step 2 The next day, boil a small pot of water, add the bacon and blanch 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.
Step 3Drain the beans and place in a large pot. Add the bacon, tomatoes, sage, garlic, bay leaves and pepper. Mix well. Add about 8 cups cold water (to cover the beans by 3 inches) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Season with salt and serve in a warm bowl with some of the bean broth.