Risi e bisi (rice and peas)

A classic Venetian dish that is both simple enough for children and refined enough for il Doge. Adapted from Rachel Ray.


  • 6 cups chicken stock or good-quality chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) Italian risotto rice, such as Arborio, Canaroli, or Vialone Nano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 ounces (about 2 2/3 cups) frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Place chicken stock in a small pot and warm over low heat.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and rice.
  3. Toast the Arborio rice for a minute or two, then ladle in 1/3 of the stock.
  4. Bring to a bubble. Stir rice occasionally, allowing the rice to get starchy and absorb the liquid. Add more stock when rice starts to become dry. Continue stirring and ladling broth until rice is al dente, about 22 minutes. Use hot water to loosen the mixture if you run out of stock. The rice when done should be soupier than risotto.
  5. Stir in peas and cheese and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


  • Feel free to substitute 1/4 cup scallions, yellow onion or shallots for the garlic.
  • When buying fresh peas in pods, you’ll need twice the weight as frozen shelled peas.
  • If you are using fresh peas: shell and set aside; boil peapods in lightly salted water to make peapod broth to use instead of chicken broth.
  • Optional add: 1/4 cup pancetta or ham with the olive oil and garlic, then add rice.
  • For vegetarian version, use vegetable broth or peapod broth.
  • Soup will become very thick when refrigerated. When reheating, add water to desired consistency.

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