Paparot (Polenta and spinach soup from Friuli Venezia Giulia)

Paparot - Spinach and polenta soup
Paparot – Spinach and polenta soup

“Paparot”: This must be the most charming name for a dish – a substantial, garlicky soup from Friuli Venezia Giulia: spinach, corn/maize flour and sausage meat. It is one of those dishes where the final result is far greater than the list of its ingredients might suggest. The spinach is first cooked and chopped, then it is added to a base of lardo (or pancetta or butter), garlic and/or sausage meat. When the spinach has absorbed all these lovely, porky flavours (in Italian cookery terms, we call this all-important step insaporire, which translates as “to make tasty”), corn or maize flour is added and then water (or broth, if you have it). The soup is then cooked for a good hour. It’s quite basic, as you can see, and not much to look at, perhaps, but the flavour is very good, if you like this kind of rustic, elementary food. 
In the old days, wild herbs would have been used and the cooking liquid would have been water. Lardo or pancetta is present in moderation, just to make the overall flavour fuller but I have also made paparot with butter only and I liked that way too. Paparot can be as thick as you wish it to be. I have made it as a proper minestra (soup) and also as a more substantial polenta & spinach dish (by reducing the amount of liquid). If you go down this way, some grated Parmesan is a nice touch at the end (or aged Montasio cheese, if you are so lucky to find it). A warming winter supper indeed.

Only marginally adapted from Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda

Spinach, 1 kg
polenta flour, 140 g
plain flour, 80g
minced lardo or crumbled sausage meat or chopped pancetta or butter, 80 g
meat broth, 2 lt (or water), hot
garlic, 2 cloves
olive oil;

Steam the spinach, drain, squeeze it dry and chop up. In a soup pot, melt the chosen fat and a little olive oil with the garlic. Remove the garlic when it is golden – do not overdo it. Add the spinach and let it absorb the fat. Add the two flours and stir well. Gradually add the hot liquid, whisking all the time. Cook very slowly for about 45/60 minutes – it really depends on the type of polenta flour one is using. Serve with black pepper.

In some contemporary versions I have seen lardo AND crumbled sausage meat being used together – a bit OTT, perhaps.




9 thoughts on “Paparot (Polenta and spinach soup from Friuli Venezia Giulia)

  1. thanks to our mutual friend John I now follow you as well 🙂 Enjoyed this soup a few times in Italy but now I am happy to try your recipe. Anything with spinach I love anyway. Grazie, Stefano – Carina


    1. ciao carina. thanks for the “fiducia”, as we say in Italian – let me know if u develop the recipe with new twists and ideas… by for now, stefano


  2. A rather late hello from a very hot Australia! John has just passed on your recipe of paparot. Not only will it be made soonest but, I am afraid, you have a new reader. Methinks I’ll learn lots!


    1. hi there Eha… I look forward to the Australian version of paparot (I know I might sound generic – my apologies- but in general I like very much a sort of easy, Australian, Donna Hay attitude to food – rather unpretentious and imaginative), ciao from London, stefano


  3. This sounds like a perfect dish, Stefano. WIth my diet still restricted, I’m on the lookout for tasty soups and this one would certainly be welcomed. I’ve been enjoying ribollita lately but paparot seems heartier. Best of al, it’s easy enough to prepare. I’ll definitely give it a try in the days ahead. Thanks for sharing another great recipe.
    I hope 2017 brings you much joy, peace, and prosperity, Stefano.


  4. here in the uk unusually mild, still a wellcom dish. Pradelli has a similar version, surprised I could not find it in Bastianich (Batali has a dodgy looking one)
    have a nice xmas by the way.s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prepared this for dinner tonight, Stefano, and loved it. With single digit temperatures for highs, it’s frigid here. Your paparot really hit the spot and warmed it up! I posted a photo of it, along with a link back here, on the kitchens’ Facebook page. Here’s a link to the page. Feel free to delete it if you don’t wish to have others post links in your Comment section.


      1. hi John… I love the way recipes travel… I had not know of paparot untill few months ago (and it is a very ancient recipe!).. and now… it has flown to the US and even Australia…. thanks for the link to FB. ciao, S


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