In a large saucepan, cover the beans with 4 inches of cold water. Stick the cloves into the onion and add it to the saucepan, along with the garlic and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Let the beans cool in the liquid for 30 minutes, then drain. Discard the onion, bay leaves and garlic.