Soup for Syria – Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity
Do you feel helpless about the terrible situation in Syria? I know that I certainly do. Who knew the depths of the atrocities ahead, including what is happening to Palmyra, when, at the start of the conflict, I wrote about my visit to Damascus and beyond. Heart-rending though the damage to ancient treasures is, it’s the human cost that is so atrocious; so when I was sent details of a new cook book published with the aim of helping there was no hesitation in getting the word out. It’s called Soup for Syria, published in the UK by Pavilion Books, and most importantly every penny of the purchase price of this will book will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to help fund life-saving efforts to Syrian refugees.
Acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors from around the world including Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and Anthony Bourdain, have contributed soup recipes. The idea for the Soup for Syria humanitarian project came about last autumn, when Lebanese food writer and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad would, on weekends, fill up her car with ingredients and head to the Syrian refugee camp near her home in the Bekaa Valley, to make soup for the refugees. After several trips she thought about self-publishing a soup cookbook and using the proceeds to continue buying ingredients for her camp visits. With the help of Interlink Publisher Michel Moushabeck, Barbara was able to turn this one person initiative into an international movement to bring food relief and awareness to this campaign.
With fabulous soups, from hearty winter warmers to chilled summer soups, these recipes are a delicious collection made with no-fuss ingredients and easy-to follow instructions. Here’s one of the recipes from the book donated by one of my all-time food heroes Claudia Roden.
Borlotti Bean and Pasta Soup by Claudia Roden
“My hope is that this project is a success and the book helps to keep the plight of Syrian refugees in people’s minds and that it will raise funds to alleviate their awful living conditions until their future is settled.”
- 200g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in cold water
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
- 125g bacon, rinds removed and chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 100g uncooked penne or other short tubular pasta
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano, to serve
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the bacon, celery, onion, carrot and garlic until the vegetables have softened, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain and add the beans, cover with water and simmer gently for 1–2 hours or until they are tender, topping them up with water every so often. Add salt and pepper once the beans have begun to soften. Remove a ladleful of beans, purée them in a blender and return them to the soup. Add the pasta and cook until it is done a bit more than al dente.
Serve with pepper and a dribble of olive oil on each serving and pass the cheese.
More about the author: Barbara Abdeni Massaad is a food writer, TV host and award-winning cookbook author. She is a founding member of Slow Food Beirut and an active participant in the International Slow Food movement. She lives in Beirut with her husband and three children.
Soup for Syria is published in the UK by Pavilion Books.
Connect with the project on their Soup for Syria Facebook page. It seems that they’ve already sold out in London and are reprinting. Good news.