To pre-cook beans: Add beans to Instant Pot and enough water to just cover, about 4 cups. Set Instant Pot to HIGH Pressure Cook for 10 minutes, with vent in the sealing position. Allow for a 10 minute Natural Pressure Release, then release the remaining pressure manually. Drain the beans and set aside. Rinse out Instant Pot liner and return to Instant Pot.
For the soup: Set Instant Pot to SAUTE at normal heat setting. Add bacon and cook, stirring, until bacon starts to brown. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring, until onion softens. Add bay leaf, chicken broth and reserved pre-cooked beans to the pot. Stir to combine. Cancel Saute and place lid on Instant Pot with vent in sealing position. Set the Instant Pot to HIGH Pressure Cook and set the time for 25 minutes. After cooking, allow for a 10 minute Natural Pressure Release, then release any remaining pressure naturally and remove lid.
To finish soup: REMOVE BAY LEAF from soup and discard. Set Instant Pot to SAUTE at low heat setting. Add the tomato paste and liquid smoke, if using. Using an immersion blender, a potato masher or by removing about 1/3 of the soup to a blender, blend the soup slightly, so that some of the beans are broken down, but some remain whole. Add cornstarch/water mixture to soup and cook, stirring, until soup thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
This soup is even better after it has been refrigerated for a few hours, so don't hesitate to make this one ahead and re-heat.