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Red-Lentil Soup

['1 large onion, chopped', '1 tablespoon olive oil', '4 garlic cloves, finely chopped', '1 teaspoon ground cumin', '1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf', '1 sprig fresh thyme', '1 cup red lentils (7 ounces), picked over and rinsed', '3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth', '3 cups water', '2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley', 'Accompaniment: lemon wedges']

Cook onion in oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, cumin, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add lentils, broth, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very soft and falling apart, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig, then purée 2 cups of mixture in blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pan.
Stir in parsley and season with salt.

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