3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, or to taste
1 qt chicken or veggie broth
2 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of ½ lemon, or more to taste 4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste
In a large pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and simmer until clear, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder (or cayenne), and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add broth, water, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot, and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Taste and add salt if necessary.
Puree half of the soup in a blender or food processor, then add it back to the pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky. Then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Dust lightly with chili powder if desired.