Rinse your beans in a colander, place them in a large pot and cover with water plus an additional 2-3 inches of water. Set on your cool stove or counter and allow them to soak overnight or for at least 8-10 hours.
Drain your beans and set aside. In your large pot, saute your bacon until almost crisp. Add your onion and saute for about 5 minutes, add your garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits as you do.
Add your beans, 8 cups of beef broth and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, uncovered for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every so often (beans will be tender). Be sure beans are not sticking, if so add another cup of stock.
Choose how thick you want the soup by the stock you add. Some of the beans will break apart and thicken the soup (which is how I happen to like it, sometimes I use a potato masher and mash it up just a bit).
Pull out the Bay leaves and then add your s&p, sugar, dry mustard, lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco, sherry, and chili sauce if using. I allow this to sit for an hour uncovered and off the heat sg the flavors to deepen. I reheat briefly and serve. This is wonderful the next 2 days!