Closely adapted from Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford. Be sure to use vegetarian stock for a vegetarian soup--I almost always prefer chicken stock so that is my first choice here.
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then add the cumin seeds. Roast until they darken and are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the onions, celery and carrot with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and allspice and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring to incorporate.
Add the tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Stir and bring to a brisk simmer. Let simmer and thicken for 5 minutes.
Mix in the bay leaves, rice and lentils.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. The original recipe calls for adding hot water at the end to thin the soup, but I prefer not to add unflavored water to a dish and dilute it. We enjoyed it thick, but if you want it soupier, add more stock. If you are using unsalted stock, add a hefty pinch of salt; if you are using commercial stock, wait to taste the dish at the end for salt.
After bringing to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender (time will depend on type and age of rice and lentils).
I made the herb paste while the soup was simmering (see below).
When the rice and lentils are tender you may add some hot water to make the dish soupier. I chose not to. Taste for salt and freshly ground black pepper and add as needed.
Serve hot, garnished with herb paste, crumbled goat cheese and lemon wedges.
*I used lentils du puy, which are always my first choice for green lentils. As a result, my soup was much, well, greener than the soup in the book and some others I have seen on the web. If you use brown lentils, your soup will be more tomato colored.