Heat olive oil in large skillet with half of the onion, all of the garlic and half jalapeño. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add meat, if using, and brown. Salt and pepper to taste. When meat is browned, add the remainder of onion, jalapeño and bell pepper. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the mixture to a crock pot/slow cooker.
Turn you crock pot to the highest heat. Add beans to crock pot and stir together. Then add 2 cups of water water, spices, tomatoes, tomato paste and cilantro. Blend well and cover.