In a medium soup pot over medium heat, add oil. Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and celery. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in lentils, rice and chicken stock. Season with salt pepper and chili flakes. Stir in parsley and thyme sprig. Let come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Skim top of broth as necessary.
In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Knead together to combine. Add egg and knead together until thoroughly mixed. Using a scoop, divide the mixture into golf-ball sized balls. Mixture will make between 3 and 4 dozen meatballs depending on size.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Arrange meatballs in a single layer in pan. Cover with splatter screen and let cook 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and let cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan.
Once the lentils are tender, remove the thyme spring. If desired, use a hand blander or immersion blender and lightly blend the soup, allowing for some small chunks of vegetables to give the soup body. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add meatballs and any juices they may have released. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings.