You'll need a big pot for this. Our medium pot (5 quarts, I think?) barely handled it. Makes about nine 2-cup servings depending on how you adjust the quantities given.
The following are the ingredients I used, with suggestions for alternatives in parentheses.
1 onion, chopped
(could be two, plus a crushed clove of garlic or two)
a few shakes/grinds each of ground cumin, powdered ginger, and black pepper
(you could also try curry powder, turmeric, mustard powder, ras al hanout, whole mustard or cumin seeds, paprika, cayenne, etc.)
1 enormous turnip, peeled and chopped--seriously, it was bigger than the onion!
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
.5 cup tomato puree
(could also include other root vegetables, zucchini, squash, peppers; for the tomato puree, you can substitute canned diced tomatoes or peeled and de-seeded fresh tomatoes if you have good ones on hand)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through (or beans, chickpeas, or raw nuts)
2 cups cooked white rice (or .5 cup uncooked rice and 1 additional cup water)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
(and/or any other fresh or dried herbs you like; parsley or cilantro would be particularly good, or dried bay leaves, or you could be adventurous and try marjoram or sage)
4 cups (one 32-oz. box) vegetable broth
3 to 4 cups water
In your big pot, heat oil and a few drops of water over medium heat until the water sizzles. Add a dash of salt. Sauté aromatics 10 minutes until softened. Add and sauté spices 1 minute or until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to keep things from sticking to the bottom. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed so the liquid just covers the solids.
Adjust seasonings to taste and simmer 15 more minutes or until all the solids are soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Remove thyme stems; if the leaves haven't already fallen off them, strip the leaves off and stir them into the soup, discarding the stems. (If using bay leaves, take those out too.) Puree the soup with a stick blender or in batches in a regular blender. At this point, if you're not eating it right away, you can distribute the soup into containers, let it cool to room temp, and store in fridge or freezer.
Before serving, return to pot and heat; add a splash of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon or lime if you like; serve garnished with fresh thyme or parsley.
Lentils + rice = complete protein, hooray! There's probably a ton of fiber in there too. This is definitely Good For You as well as being tasty. And it's easy.
Most of the flavor in the soup comes from the broth and the spices and herbs; don't expect the vegetables to flavor it much unless you want to go to the trouble of roasting them beforehand. If your soup isn't very flavorful, add some vegetable boullion, or increase the spices at the 30-minute flavor-adjusting mark. The vinegar or citrus juice will punch it up too. Enjoy!