Riso in brodo con piselli

Pea Broth with Rice and Peas

If you like it thick, you have the Venetian risi e bisi. If you like it thin and brothy, you have a beautiful pale green soup with rice. Simply steam the rice and blanch the peas in two separate steps and add them both to the pea broth, thereby eliminating the extra work of cooking the soup in the manner of risotto.


  • 3 pounds English peas in the pod
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Vegetable stock or water as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • cups Arborio rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)


Shell the peas. You should have 3 to 3½ cups peas; set them aside. Put all of the pea pods, 1 of the chopped onions, the celery, and the carrots in a large saucepan and add stock or water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the pods are very tender, 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Working in batches, purée the vegetables, pea pods, and cooking liquid in a blender until smooth. If the purée is fibrous, pass it through a food mill. Measure the purée and add vegetable stock or water to total 8 cups. The liquid must be thin enough to be easily absorbed by the rice.

Pour the 8 cups broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. In a large sauté pan with high sides, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped onion and half of the parsley and sauté until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add a ladleful (about 1 cup) of the simmering broth, and stir until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to add broth a ladleful at a time, always waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more, until the rice kernels are al dente at the center and creamy on the outside, 18 to 20 minutes in all. You may not need all of the broth. Add the shelled peas midway during the cooking (just before the final 2 additions of broth).

Thin with additional stock or water, or any remaining broth, as needed to achieve the desired consistency, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and Parmesan, if using. Serve immediately.


Sip the local Soave.