Drain and rinse beans. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat (or see Tip, below). Add onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add broth, bay leaves, thyme and the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. (You want them to remain whole and not falling apart.) Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.