¾cupsmall macaronisuch as ditalini, small shells, or stars (pastina)
2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
4cupswater(if making vegetarian soup, omit chicken broth and use 8 cups water instead)
Kosher salt and hot red peppersuch as cayenne
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until almost al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Then add the lentils, broth, and water, cover and bring the mixture to a boil. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Stir in the cooked pasta, tomato paste, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin. Season with salt and hot pepper (just a pinch or two). Serve hot.
You may be tempted to just boil the pasta directly in the soup, but doing so will absorb much of the liquid and leave the soup incredibly thick. Leftover soup may thicken up as well, as the residual liquid absorbs into the pasta, but feel free to thin it out with a little water or chicken broth when you heat it back up.