1. Film the bottom of a 6-quart pot with olive oil and set it over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsley, coriander and a little salt and sautÃ© 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds.
2. Blend in the lentils, paprika, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer 45 minutes, or until the lentils have dissolved and the soup tastes rich and good. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Add a little water if the soup is too thick.
3. While the soup cooks, set out small plates for each diner with the accompaniments—lemon wedges, about 2 figs and dates for each, a little of the ground spices and bite-size pieces of pastry.
4. To serve the soup, sprinkle it with the 2 tablespoons of coriander and ladle into bowls.
From The Splendid Table's® How to Eat Weekends: New Recipes, Stories & Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by American Public Media. Photographs copyright © 2011 by Ellen Silverman. All rights reserved.
"It's a whole lot easier to make your kitchen work for you than against you," says Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. "You're going to reduce how much other stuff you eat, but you're going to be doing it unconsciously." He is the author of Slim by Design.