Al Bhed Pomegranate Soup

Tidus at the Bikanel oasis“There were these Al Bhed that saved my life when I first came to Spira. They took me on their ship, even gave me food.”

—Tidus, FFX

Try substituting a bag of frozen vegetarian meatballs to reduce the fat in this recipe or speed up the cooking time.

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ cup minced curly parsley

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and halved
  • 4 oz. yellow split peas (about ½ cup)
  • 4 small red beets, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. brown basmati rice (about 1 cup)
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 bunch green onions (discard the white ends and use the green leafy parts), chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice

Combine the meat and grated onions in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, and parsley, and mix lightly, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into chestnut-size meatballs and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and garlic and fry until golden, about 20 minutes. Stir in the split peas and cook for an additional minute.

Pour in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beets and salt and continue to simmer, covered, for 20 more minutes.

Add meatballs and rice to the pot. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in spinach, green onions, mint, oregano, and pomegranate juice. Continue simmering, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Before serving, check a meatball to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

Makes about 10 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 346 calories, 15.9 g. fat, 0.5 g. saturated fat, 1.3 g. poly. fat, 7 g. mono. fat, 39.2 mg. cholesterol, 555.9 mg. sodium, 513.9 mg. potassium, 37.7 g. carbohydrates, 5.6 g. fiber, 13.7 g. protein, vitamin A 14%, vitamin C 16%, calcium 6%, iron 14%