Venetian Rice and Bean Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This much-loved and highly respected dish from the Veneto is one of those classic peasant dishes that have a real historical significance. It always strikes me how the inland countryside areas around the great cities of Venice and Verona reflect in their recipes a time of hardship and the need to nourish and warm many people, contrasting with the opulent and almost outrageous recipes designed to boast and impress graced the grandiose tables of the aristocracy. Yet, even for the former type the ingredients are specific, requiring care and detail to an otherwise simple dish. Note: the bean is absolutely key here!


  • 1 litre/ pints/4 cups beef stock
  • 300 g/11 oz fresh saluggia beans, podded (see Cook’s Tip)
  • 5 cm/2 in pork skin, hairs removed and well scraped and washed
  • 75 g/3 oz lardo or pork fat, chopped
  • 5-7.5 cm/2-3 in soft pork salame, skin removed, salame crumbled
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp olive oil
  • 320 g/11½ oz/generous cups Vialone Nano rice
  • sea salt
  • cracked black peppercorns


  1. Pour the beef stock into a large pan, then add 500 ml/17 fl oz/generous 2 cups of the water in which you boiled the dried borlotti beans the second time, along with the pre-cooked beans. If you are using fresh podded saluggia or borlotti beans, just add 500 ml/17 fl oz/generous 2 cups of water and the raw fresh beans. Add the pork skin.

  2. Cover and simmer slowly for about 1 hour or until the beans are very soft.
  3. In a separate pan, fry together the lardo or pork fat, the crumbled salame and the onion with the butter and oil.

  4. When the onion is soft and transparent, add the rice and mix together with the other ingredients to coat and toast slightly, then add some of the water from the beans - enough to cover generously - and stir, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid.

  5. Continue until the rice is cooked (not rice-pudding texture, but not chalky either), then add all the beans and sufficient water from the same pan to make a very thick soup or a very sloppy risotto.
  6. Adjust the seasoning, finish with a little cracked black pepper, and serve.