Lanzarote's Millet Soup for the World

Within the rich and special Canarian gastronomy there are a series of essential dishes that are a treasure of its culture and a joy for the senses. One of them is, without a doubt, the "caldo de millo", a traditional recipe of the spoon cuisine that admits rich variants, like the "lanzaroteña" or "conejera".

Millet broth is one of the most traditional and tasty spoon dishes of the Canary Islands and in particular, in its version with ribs, of the island of Lanzarote. It is a must try if you want to show off your Canarian cuisine and, although it is usually prepared for family gatherings and celebrations, it is not easy to find in the restaurants of the seven islands.

The ingredient that gives the name to the dish is the millet, a term used in the Canary Islands for corn. This name of millet comes from the Latin milium, millet in Spanish, which is also used, although residually, in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, from Galicia, through the Castilian provinces of Leon, Zamora and Salamanca to the west of Cáceres and Badajoz.

Millo gomero

The millo, in the canary's DNA

The millet is present in the DNA of the Canarian gastronomic culture. Since its first arrival to the islands, coming from America in Columbus' ships, the millet was immediately adopted as a basic ingredient of countless dishes. It is part of the omnipresent gofio, that flour used in different forms (in powder, kneaded with salt and water, with broth, with honey, with milk, blanched with fat and butter, in nougat...). With the millo in the form of flour is made the tasty millo bread or desserts such as frangollo (old traditional dessert increasingly difficult to taste) and millo cookies or chafarraños, to name a few.

The typical historical millet of the Islands is yellow in colour and has a rounded grain (corn from other areas is more elongated or fanged), although there is another typical Canarian variety that is reddish in colour. When they are in the shape of ears they are called piñas, which are widely used for the Canary Island stew.

Millo de Lanzarote, on volcanic soil

At present the cultivation of millet has been drastically reduced in the Canary Islands. As has happened with other types of agricultural production, the tourism sector has overtaken this type of economy. Not long ago, the millet could easily be bought in bulk, but as this is no longer possible in many places, for our millet soup we can resort to pineapples (as corn is called in the Islands) and shell them. In the event that we do not find the millet in these formats, we will pull frozen corn or, ultimately, we will use that of the canned, cooked and packed relief, present in all the supermarkets.

As we said before, we can distinguish two basic ways of making millet broth. One is simpler, with chickpeas, millet and potatoes, very typical of several islands and especially in Gran Canaria. The other version includes, in addition to these ingredients, pork and/or ribs, which is how it is traditionally made on the island of Lanzarote. In any case, potatoes are an obligatory ingredient of the dish. The ideal is medium Canarian potatoes (the variety, to suit everyone), peeled, washed and cut.

A spoonful of millet broth

The beans will be soaked the night before for about ten minutes and then set aside.

We will put the meat to cook, together with the ribs, which we will cut into smaller pieces, for fifteen minutes. Then we will put in a big pot the chickpeas, the millet, the potatoes, garlic, red onion, some strands of saffron, laurel, coriander (parsley in its absence) and salt. During half an hour we will cook all the ingredients. The potato will give us the moment to finish cooking.

All we have left is to taste the dish. The millet soup is in the gastronomic memory of the Canaries, and without a doubt its taste brings back a lot of memories. We have talked about several versions of this succulent dish, but obviously there are many more ways to do it, almost as many as there are families in the Islands. One last piece of advice: if you want the experience of eating a good millo broth to be almost perfect, we recommend that, like the locals, you accompany it with a rich Canarian cheese, preferably hard, as well as a volcanic malvasia wine from Lanzarote. Enjoy!

Mile stew
A variant of the millet broth on the island of La Graciosa in Lanzarote, on the blog of La Palmera Rosa

Photos: Ecotourism Lanzarote Biosphere,, Agrolanzarote,,


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