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.
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.
Petite Peas: 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.
Wine Recommendation: 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.
Quick From Scratch Italian