Lentil Soup with Wild Hyacinth Bulbs, Garlic and Mint

Inspired by the description I found in an ancient text. It seems that Greek volvoi are no longer exported, so you can use the lampascioni from Puglia, either sold roasted or in vinegar. Alternatively you can substitute pickled pearl onions, avoiding the bitter taste all together… Read more about our love of bitter taste.

Scroll down for the second day Pasta & Lentil I usually whip up with our leftover lentil soup.

It is an ideal winter main course that Costas and I enjoy enormously!


See also the Lentil Soup with Pickled cabbage, and the Linguini with Spicy Lentils and Caramelized onions I included in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts. 




Makes 4 servings


4 cups water


1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed


2 bay leaves


3 tablespoons olive oil


1 tablespoon chopped garlic cloves


1/2–1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to taste


3 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock




1 cup pickled volvoi (wild hyacinth bulbs –see the intro), drained, or pickled pearl onions


2-3 tablespoons Greek red wine vinegar, or Kalamata balsamic vinegar, to taste


Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus some sprigs for garnish


Fruity, extra-virgin olive oil



In a large pot, combine the water, lentils and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaves.


Wipe out the pot with paper towels. Heat the oil in the pot and sauté the garlic with the Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and sauté for 1 minute. Add the reserved cooking liquid, the stock and very little salt — volvoi are usually very salted– bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.


Add the volvoi and vinegar, increase the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a few grindings of black pepper, if needed. Stir in the mint.


Ladle the soup into bowls drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, garnish with mint leaves and serve.


Second Day Lentils with Pasta 

Add ditallini, or any small-size pasta (1 cup pasta for each 2 cups lentil) into the leftover lentil soup as you warm it, adding more broth and 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.


Drizzle with fresh olive oil and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and some parsley, chervil, or mint as you serve the lentil pasta.


Accompany with feta cheese, if you are not a vegan. 










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