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In reference to the lentils, red ones are supposed to have more flavor. I
found a great lentil soup recipe on the Vegetarian Resource Group web page
under Mediterranean Soups. It does use some olive oil, but the onions and
other ingredients could be sauteed in water or stock just as well, or just
added to the soup. My Iranian friends love this soup.
Iranians eat lentils and rice quite often, putting various things in it for
flavor... sometimes raisins, onions, whatever you like. This is a very good
meal, as the lentils supply a lot of protein.
Hope you like this.

(Serves from 8 to 10)

Enjoy this delicious soup.

1 cup lentils, rinsed
7 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium size onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup white rice, uncooked
1/4 cup lemon juice

Place lentils and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Cover and cook over
medium heat for 25 minutes.

In the meantime, in a frying pan, heat oil and saute onions and garlic until
they turn golden brown. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lemon juice,
and saute for another 5 minutes.

Stir the frying pan contents into the lentils and bring to boil. Cover and 
cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice and lentils are well-cooked. 
(I added celery and parsley at this point, just because I like them in soup)

Stir in lemon juice and serve hot.
(I didn't use the lemon juice)

from Kay in Virginia