1 cup dried lentils
4‑5 cups low-sodium vegetable or meat broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2‑inch dice
1 28‑ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1/2‑inch cubes
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or more or less to taste
fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
about a tablespoon grated fresh orange zest
Rinse the lentils and put them in a large pot. Add 4 cups broth and the apricots, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients, about 20 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add more broth. Ladle the soup into large bowls, garnish with the chopped herbs, and zest and serve.