Melt the butter or oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf, parsley, and rice. Cook to soften the onion, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, ½ teaspoon salt, and some pepper and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the water and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, make the relish by mixing all the ingredients together. Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Puree the soup leaving just a bit of texture. (Always be carefully when pureeing hot soup - it tends to spray out the top!) Serve in bowls and top with a spoonful of onion relish.