Stewed vegetables with anise and lemon sauce

    Serves 6 to 8

    • 1 lb. dried lima beans (about 2 cups)
    • 9 cups cold water
    • 2½ tsp. salt, and more to taste
    • 3 medium-sized heads anise (about 2 to 2½ lbs. untrimmed) or fennel
    • 2 large onions
    • ¾ lb. green beans
    • ½ lb. carrots
    • ½ lb. mushrooms
    • ½ cup butter
    • 3 eggs
    • juice of 2 large lemons (about ⅓ cup)
    • pepper to taste

    1. Put the dried lima beans in a pot with 7 cups of cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the beans gently for 1 hour. Skim off the foam from the top.
    2. Trim the long stalks and tops off of the heads of anise and peel off the outer leaves if they are blemished. Wash the anise carefully, getting out any dirt that may be trapped between the leaves. Cut the anise into chunks no more than 1 inch across and 2 inches long.
    3. Peel the onions and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Trim the green beans and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Scrape the carrots and slice them thickly or, if they are slender, cut them in ¾-inch lengths. Wash and trim the mushrooms.
    4. Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté the anise and onions in it for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beans, carrots, and mushrooms and stir for a few minutes more. Add the partially cooked lima beans, together with their liquid, 2 more cups of water, and another 1½ tsp. salt. Stir everything together gently, cover the pot, and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or a little longer if necessary. All the vegetables should be tender.
    5. Beat the eggs with the lemon juice. Ladle out about 1 cup of the hot broth from the vegetables and beat it into the egg mixture. Add the sauce to the vegetables and stir over lowest possible heat for a few minutes, until the liquid has thickened. Season with more salt and pepper, and serve.