Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion into it and cook until softened about 5 minutes.
Add minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, and cayenne pepper (if using) to the saucepan. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add diced sweet potatoes, rinsed lentils, diced tomatoes (with their juices), and vegetable broth to the saucepan. Stir to combine.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Let the soup simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and lentils are tender.
Once the sweet potatoes and lentils are cooked through, use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Alternatively, you can carefully transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend until smooth, then return it to the saucepan.
Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting the seasoning as needed.
Serve the sweet potato and lentil soup hot, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro, a dollop of plain yogurt, and toasted pumpkin seeds if desired.
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