Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium. Add in the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Toss to coat and then cover the pot and allow to sauté on low heat for 5 minutes.
To a separate small pot, add your lentils and cover them with water. Cover the pot and heat them on high until the water almost begins to boil. Remove from heat and drain.
Next, add in the tomato paste and toss to coat everything. Pour in the broth, water, lentils and cumin. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are to your preferred tenderness. Once they are done, season with the salt to taste. Do not salt the dish until the lentils are done.
Remove the bay leaves and garlic pieces from the pot. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and optionally add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar or some fresh squeezed lemon.
If your soup needs more liquid, NEVER add cold water to it. Always heat the water first before adding it in to the pot.I love eating this soup with some crusty bread and Kalamata olives.