A Cookbook to Aid Refugees


Food writer Barbara Abdeni Massaad edited and photographed the images for Soup for Syria.

Soup. Uttering that word can make you feel warm, loved, safe. When we want to comfort and nourish those around us, soup is what we turn to.

When author Barbara Abdeni Massaad wanted to do something to aid the Syrian families in the refugee camp near her home in Lebanon, she began with soup. Every weekend, she and her husband began cooking gallon upon gallon of soup to bring to the camp. Her friends saw what she was doing and joined them. Feeling like she should do more, Massaad turned to her friend and publisher Michel Moushabeck.

Moushabeck suggested that they combine efforts to have a greater impact. With Massaad’s background as a food writer and TV host and Moushabeck’s experience as publisher and editor, the logical choice was a cookbook. The two of them began making phone calls, requesting recipes from friends and acquaintances.

The result is Soup for Syria, a collection of over 80 lavishly photographed soup and stew recipes. The international family of contributors includes celebrity chefs and authors such as Paula Wolfert, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Anthony Bourdain. All the proceeds from the book’s sale go the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR.

—Review by Mary Reilly, Edible Pioneer Valley

Soup for Syria
Edited and photographed by Barbara Abdeni Massaad
Interlink Books, 2015; 208 pages


There are over 4 million Syrian refugees in five countries:
● Turkey 1,622,839
● Lebanon 1,174,313
● Jordan 623,241
● Iraq 242,468
● Egypt 136,661

Nearly 8 million Syrians are internally displaced.
Thousands of Syrians continue to flee their country every day.

Half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Most have been out of school for many months.

More than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million is in desperate need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Source: UNHCR, February 23, 2015.


Spicy Clam Soup with Basturma


Spicy Clam Soup with Basturma

By Garrett Melkonian
From Soup for Syria

Serves 4–6

3–4 tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2–4 tablespoons red pepper paste
Small bunch cilantro, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds manila clams, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock
31⁄2 ounces basturma (Turkish air-dried cured beef, or substitute pastrami), diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grilled or toasted bread, to serve

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, pepper paste, cilantro, cayenne, cumin, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula (do not use a whisk).

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, add the tomato mixture, and cook until the mixture becomes fragrant and tomatoes begin to break down, about 1 minute.

Add the clams, stock, and basturma and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until all of the clams have opened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to serving bowls, leaving the broth in the pot.

Add the butter to the broth and check for seasoning. The basturma and the clams carry a good deal of salinity, and the soup will probably not need salt.

Ladle the broth over the clams, garnish each bowl with a handful of cilantro leaves, and serve with thick slices of grilled bread.

“Everyday images of war torn communities, once beautiful and thriving, flood our hearts and fill our souls with grief and the ever-growing need to help those affected by conflict. The Soup for Syria project is a message of hope and a giant step towards the light.” —Garrett Melkonian


Roasted Red Beet Soup

From Soup for Syria
By Barbara Abdeni Massaad


Roasted Red Beet Soup

Serves 4-6

1 pound red beets
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1⁄2 cup cream, plus 1⁄4 cup for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.

Cool the beets and peel. Cut half of 1 beet into small cubes and set aside for the garnish. Chop the remaining beets into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leek, onion, and celery and cook until they begin to brown, stirring frequently. This should take about 15 minutes.

Stir in ginger, allspice, white pepper, and beets. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes.

Add 4 1/4 cups water, the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley.

To purée the soup, fill a blender or food processor no more than halfway. Start on low speed, keeping your hand on top in case the lid pops off from the rising steam. Increase the speed to high and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. You might need to do this in batches.

Return the soup to a clean pot set over low heat. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with the reserved beet cubes and 1 tablespoon of cream, if desired.