This is a traditional Middle Eastern soup called Shorbat Adas. The Mediterranean Wraps shop on California in Palo Alto has an excellent lentil soup which of course I couldn't quite replicate.
3 ounces of bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of red lentils
4 cups of chicken or garden stock
3 cups of water, plus more to thin later
1 tsp cumin
3 dried limes - cut into them slightly with a sharp knife in 2 or 3 places
1/2- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½-1 teaspoon turmeric
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
First sort the lentils for any stones, grains, or sand. Wash thoroughly and drain.
In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil and bacon and slowly render all the fat. Remove the bacon and reserve for garnish.
Add the vegetables and toss lightly until fragrant and the onions soften. Do not brown it.
Immediately add the lentils and spices. Stir well. The lentils will absorb the oil and heat up and roast.
When the pan starts to crackle a bit add the broth and the water.
Once the soup begins to boil, reduce heat. Simmer for about 40 minutes, uncovered.
When the lentils are softened and cooked, Add the juice of one lime, puree with a hand blender, avoiding or removing the dried limes, and remove from heat. If the soup looks too thick to you, you can add more water over low heat and stir until homogeneous.
Sprinkle with paprika, serve with lime wedges and pita bread, and garnish with the celery tops and the reserved bacon. I paired this with a chilled beaujolais for a nice early spring lunch.