Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; cook for 1 minute. Add broth, lentils, bulgur, tomato paste and bay leaf; bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils and bulgur are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
Ladle about 4 cups of the soup into a food processor and puree. Return the pureed soup to the soup pot and heat through. Stir in lemon juice and season with pepper.
Just before serving, ladle the soup into bowls. Heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil in a small skillet and stir in paprika and cayenne. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of the sizzling spice mixture over each bowlful and serve immediately.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Tip: You can replace red lentils with brown lentils; add 1/2 cup water and simmer 40 to 45 minutes.
Per serving: 218 calories; 5 g fat ( 1 g sat , 3 g mono ); 5 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 15 g protein; 7 g fiber; 151 mg sodium; 406 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Fiber (29% daily value), Iron (15% dv).