Mushroom & Millet Minestrone – Dani Valent

A sustaining soup with wholesome millet and the spark of basil pesto

How good is soup! A great soup is comforting and nourishing, tasty and satisfying and, for the cook, a never-ending opportunity to be creative. I love simple one-vegetable soups (hello, pumpkin!) but I also love boosting bowl value with greens and grains as we do here, with this hearty, healthy minestrone.

I came up with the idea of beginning and ending the cooking process with pesto simply because I had armfuls of basil I needed to do something with: hence, pesto! And then I needed to make dinner, so I ploughed straight on and made some soup. If there’s no need to wash the mixing bowl then I don’t: it’s a great way to save time and effort, while also layering flavour.

We use millet in this soup, a small seed that cooks in about 10 minutes. It’s a staple crop in Africa, India and China but we don’t eat so much of it in the western world – in fact, we feed a lot of it to animals. I think we humans should get into millet more. It’s wholesome, nutty and nutritious, it’s quick and easy to cook and it’s gluten-free too, if that’s an issue for you. You can buy millet at health food shops and places such as The Source Bulk Foods, but you also use quinoa or cous cous if that’s easier.

From a farming point of view, millet is a winner too. It needs relatively little water and is able to tolerate high temperatures, so chances are we’ll be eating more of it as climate change affects crops and yields in decades to come.

Serves: 8-10 as an entree or 4-6 as a main course
Time: 25 minutes



  • 80 grams parmesan cheese, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 120 grams raw cashews
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only
  • 60-80 grams olive oil


  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 large carrots (scrubbed, unpeeled), roughly chopped
  • 200 grams mushrooms, chopped if large
  • 50 grams butter
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock paste
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 100 grams millet
  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced
  • 100 grams broccoli florets and stem



1. Place parmesan in mixing bowl and grate for 6 sec/speed 8.

2. Add cashews and basil and mix on speed 6 for about 10 seconds, adding olive oil while it’s mixing. Check mixture and if a wetter pesto is desired, mix on speed 4.5, adding more oil to create a sturdy but glossy pesto.  

Scrape out pesto and set aside to dollop on soup later but be sure to leave some residue of pesto in the bowl.


3. Place onion, carrots and mushrooms in mixing bowl and chop 10 sec/speed 4.5.

4. Add butter and sauté 10 min/100°C /Reverse/speed 1. Scrape down.

5. Add stock paste, water and millet. Cook 8 min/100°C/Reverse/speed 1.

6. Add asparagus and broccoli and cook 5 min/100°C/Reverse/speed 1.

Transfer soup into serving bowls and serve with a generous dollop of pesto.

Non-Thermomix Method 


1. Grate parmesan and place in food processor or mortar.
2. Add cashews and basil and pulseor pound with pestle until mixture is consistent. Add olive oil and continue to mix until pesto is sturdy but glossy.  


3. Warm butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
4. Finely chop onion, carrots and mushrooms and sauté in butter until soft, stirring often.
5. Add stock and millet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes.
6. Add asparagus and broccoli. Simmer for a further 5 minutes or until just tender.
7. Serve with a dollop of pesto, if desired.


  • Don’t fill your mixing bowl beyond the maximum level.
  • The millet can sink to the bottom – make sure you get a bit of everything in every bowl.


  • You can buy millet at health food shops and places such as The Source Bulk Foods, but you also use quinoa or cous cous if that’s easier.
  • Try other grains, such as lentils or quinoa or add a tin of beans or chickpeas in the last couple of minutes of cooking time.
  • Use other greens, such as green beans, silverbeet or kale, or add small cubes of pumpkin or sweet potato.

More about this video

I love my Nancybird Flinders shirt with its cool scribble pattern.

Want more soup? Try my Emergency Lentil Soup or George Calombaris’s Pumpkin Soup with Virtual Bacon Dust.

Want to fall in love with millet even more? You need my Beetroot & Millet Pilaf!

Looking for more serving suggestions for my Mushroom & Millet Minestrone? Why not try serving it with some delicious homemade Gnocchi.

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I love my Elk top & Obus pants

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