Moroccan millet soup called “Aneeli” or ” h’ssoua d’Illane” is a very simple and yet extremely healthy soup. It does not require many ingredients although it may vary depending on the families. You just need to find the major one to make it.
Our Moroccan millet grows in warm areas and especially in Ouarzazate area.
Millet is known for its health benefits: relatively rich in iron and phosphorus, B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, proteins, a good dose of calcium and it’s said to be gluten-free!
When my mother and her auntie (65 years old then and now 71) went to visit their doctor complaining about some pains in their bones, they were highly advised to incorporate the Moroccan millet soup into their diet, besides increasing their intake in milk. Most of Moroccan associate this cereal with strong bones. Presumably, women’s bones tend to age and become weak as the years go by.
A lactose-free Moroccan millet porridge with orange blossom water and cinnamon
or garlic, ginger and black pepper for a savoury version.
Moroccan millet soup can be slightly thin or porridge-like in texture depending on preferences. You may also serve it on the savoury side as it’s widely known or on the sweet side.
And while it needs milk in the last simmering minutes to finish it off, you don’t have to add it in case someone in your house is lactose-intolerant. There is another reason why I sometimes omit milk: I like to give this in a porridge-texture to my little toddler and adding milk is believed to stop the body from absorbing iron.
Feel free to add butter or olive oil before eating it
The type of millet used in Illane or Aneeli soup is something that could be either sorghum or pearl millet but definitely not the plain millet seeds (I tried, they didn’t deliver).
The plain millet seeds found here in UK shops do not make a good substitute
for this soup as it does not have a nutty flavour
The type of millet used in this soup should be cleaned first, toasted to bring out its nutty flavour and then crushed to a fine semolina.
Millet soup Illane or Aneeli with millet
So, what are your options with this soup?
Plain (standard version)
Just cooked in water. Salted and finished with milk. You could go butter or olive oil which you add before serving.
Spicy and herby
Add crushed garlic, ground ginger, ground black/white pepper and even some warming herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage…You may still finish it with milk and thicken it.
Porridge with Moroccan flavours
I serve this porridge in the morning for breakfast. Either you add milk or don’t but the flavourings I use are cinnamon and orange blossom. Then I add a dollop of butter before serving. Sweetening it with honey is an option.
Mixed with barley semolina: just cook it in any of the 3 ways mentioned above but replace a portion of millet with barley grits/semolina (say 50%-50%)and adjust the liquids accordingly.
Ingredient for standard Aneeli or Illan soup
Serves 4 – 6
Prep: 2 min – Cooking: 35 – 40 min
200g of millet, cleaned, toasted and ground to fine grits
1 tsp of salt (adjust to taste)
1.2 l of water (at least 6 times the weigh of millet used)
1 tsp of smen (optional)
2 tbsps of butter or olive oil
500-700 ml of milk
Removing stones and any undesired bits before toasting the unhulled millet
In my family, we slightly grease the inside of the pot (sides and bottom) with smen. It just add a subtle touch to the soup or porridge (whichever the texture you like) we are about to make.
And while the traditional way of starting this soup is to add millet grits to boiling water, I just mix it with normal cold tap water and place the pot on a medium heat. Stir to avoid any lumps.
Give it 15 to 20 minutes and start stirring from time to time. If you feel that millet needs water then add about 1/2 cup and see how it goes..Do it progressively.
Passed 30 minutes of cooking, the grits should have become tender. Add the milk and correct the seasoning.
Carry on simmering the soup until it the liquid has reduced and and the millet cooked (usually for another 15 minutes).
Drop in the butter or oil and mix. I find using a whisker quite handy but you just use a spatula.
This soup thicken as it cools down. It also tend to form a sort of crust from the top if it’s not covered, especially if you have gone for a porridge texture. Take that into consideration before thickening it too much in our last minutes of cooking.
Make this soup in this cold winter and enjoy its benefits. My 21 months old baby seems to love it especially with orange blossom and cinnamon..