1. Soak beans for 8 hours or overnight, or follow the quick soak directions on the package. Drain and rinse.
2. Coarsely chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and along with the garlic, add to a blender and process just shy of a puree.
3. Add the vegetable oil to a saucepan or stockpot and heat on medium. Saute the blended vegetables for 5 minutes.
4. Add the thyme, oregano, black pepper, cumin/paprika, and cayenne. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring regularly.
5. Add the beans, water, bay leaves, and liquid smoke. Stir to combine and turn the heat up to high. When it begins to boil, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer 2-3 hours, or until the beans begin to fall apart.
6. While the beans are cooking, cook the rice, or use already cooked rice.
7. When the beans are falling apart, pour off most of the cooking liquid into a bowl to reserve. Remove the bay leaves. Mash approximately 1/3 of the beans with a spoon, potato masher, or immersion blender, adding as much of the reserved liquid as necessary to reach the preferred thickness.
8. Add salt to taste. Use less if intending to use Cajun seasoning. Cook for 10 more minutes, mixing in more of the reserved liquid if needed.
9. Serve beans over the rice, allowing each person to add Cajun seasoning and hot sauce to taste.