A favorite of the rice-loving Venetians, the soup called risi e bisi (rice and peas) is so thick that it's sometimes mistaken for risotto. We've added diced ham and plenty of Parmesan to make a satisfying dinner.
Great Comfort Food Recipes
6 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 1/2 cups rice, preferably arborio
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups frozen petite peas (one 10-ounce package), defrosted
1 1/4-pound piece deli ham, cut into small dice
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
How to Make It
In a large pot, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced to approximately 7 cups, about 20 minutes.
Add the rice, parsley, and salt and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, until the rice is just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, ham, Parmesan, and pepper.
Peas are one of the few vegetables that are usually better frozen than fresh. Frozen petite peas consistently have good flavor, a pleasant sweetness, and tender texture. In the springtime, if you can find truly fresh, sweet peas, by all means use them here. Just add them with the rice and parsley.
A light and unpretentious red will make the best partner for this dish. Look to the Veneto for the tart-cherry flavor of a crisp Bardolino or a slightly fuller Valpolicella.
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