This recipe is based on one from Sarah Woodward's cookbook The Ottoman Kitchen, but I have made some changes, so this is not that exact recipe. A soup made with these ingredients is called "Turkish bride soup." I'm going to assume that's because it's given to Turkish brides, since it is not made out of them.
Anyway, you will need the following:
3 white onions, chopped
1 large or two small carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup bulgur
3/4 cup red or brown lentils (DO NOT use green or yellow, they will cook to a mush)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped (to your taste but the more the better)
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
8 cups water
The only thing you may not be able to get at a really small grocery store is bulgur, but they will have it at any bigger one, so you may want to think about making this soup when you're going to the big supermarket anyway. I know how it is, I'm lazy as shit too.
Once you have procured the ingredients, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion and carrot. Please note that when I say butter, I do mean this
and not this
Recall that the task at hand is to make lentil soup that doesn't suck. It ain't gonna happen with margarine.
Okay, moving on: cook the onion and carrot until the onion is browning, about 20 minutes. Then add all the other ingredients except the water and lemon. Don't be shy with the mint, it has a mild taste and is really nice. I used this much, stems and all, but I probably could have used even twice that:
And don't be shy with the salt and pepper; remember you're going to add 8 cups of water. Speaking of which, now add 8 cups of water. BTW, I did this once with only 6 cups because my pot was too small and it came out fine.
Cover the pot, bring the whole thing to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Once that's done, cut the lemon in half, squeeze both halves into the soup, then stir. Now I don't mean to be an asshole, but please remember a lemon looks like this:
It does not look like a bottle. Believe me, I'm all for shortcuts, but I am telling you that bottled lemon juice is the devil. It will make your taste buds weak. You will grow to hate the taste of lemon, or what you think is the taste of lemon but is actually the taste of dishwater. Don't do it.
Now, even if you for some reason don't think this soup is as positively awesome as I do, you have to admit that it isn't total crap. Which for lentil soup is saying something.