Sauté the sausage over medium high heat in the Dutch oven you will use to cook the beans. Once the sausage is browned and the fat is rendered, remove the sausage from the pan and set aside, leaving all the rendered fat in the pan. About 5 to 7 minutes
Drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Add the soaked beans, the seasoning meat and the bay leafs to the pot with enough cold water to cover the beans by about an inch; bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and simmer for an hour. Stir occationally.
After an hour simmering slowly, add the chopped veggies, the browned sausage and about 2/3 of the Herb and Spice Blend without salt (reserving the remainder) to the pot and stir well to mix everything together. If needed, add a little more water to keep the beans just covered. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat uncovered for about 30 minutes. Stir often so they don't stick.
After the 30 minutes uncovered, stir well, lower heat, cover the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes. Stir often because the beans will want to stick to the pot.
After 30 minutes covered, remove the cover and simmer over low heat until the beans are soft and creamy-this should take another 15 minutes but may take up to an hour. Stir often so they don't stick. Add a little more water if they are getting too thick.
While the beans are simmering, cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag or box.
Once the beans are as creamy and tender as you like them- turn off the heat, remove the seasoning meat from the pot (if it has bones); take the meat off the bones and return the meat to the pot.
Now is the time to taste for seasoning and salt. Start with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, stir well and taste. If you think the beans could use more seasoning, add some or all of the reserved Herb and Spice Blend, salt and/or ground black pepper.
Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.