If using dried beans, add the beans to a large bowl, cover by 2 inches with cold water and let soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and set aside. If using canned beans, drain and rinse.
Add the bacon, if using, to a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and cook until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and return the skillet to the stovetop. Add the sausage and cook until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a bowl and reserve.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and return to the stove over medium heat. When the fat shimmers, add the onion and garlic, stir to coat in fat, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the tomato paste. Add the beans, chorizo, and all remaining ingredients, except the bacon, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors have melded and the dried beans are cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Crumble the bacon into beans, and season with additional salt, if needed. Remove the bay leaf, transfer the beans to a serving bowl and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp