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Soup for Syria – Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity

October 30, 2015
Soup for Syria - Tomato Basil Soup by Martyna Monaco

Tomato Basil Soup with Bread by Martyna Monaco in Soup for Syria

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.

Soup for Syria. Barbara with refugees from the camp

Barbara with refugees from the camp

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.

Soup for Syria - Borlotti Bean soup by Claudia Roden

Soup for Syria – Borlotti Bean soup by Claudia Roden

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Soup by Claudia Roden

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

“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.

  1. October 30, 2015 2:44 pm

    Inspired immediately to track down a copy. Food is central to our lives so why isn’t it central to our political and social thinking? Thanks for the heads up oh this on.

  2. October 30, 2015 3:46 pm

    Fab! Thanks for sharing… I’ll get a copy!

  3. October 30, 2015 3:46 pm

    A delightful soup and wonderful idea!



  4. glamorous glutton permalink
    October 30, 2015 4:22 pm

    What a fantastic idea. You’re right, who knew how awful the whole situation would become. It behoves each of us to do whatever we’re able. Thanks for posting this Sally. GG

  5. October 30, 2015 6:34 pm

    It’s awful reading and watching what is happening in Syria, I cannot even begin to imagine. Thank you for sharing about this book.

  6. October 30, 2015 6:52 pm

    The soup recipe looks lovely, and it’s so great that proceeds are going to help those in Syria.

  7. October 30, 2015 11:59 pm

    I do think about how lucky I am to be going to sleep in a bed each night and can only imagine how dreadful these people’s lives have become which makes me very sad. This book is such a good idea!

  8. October 31, 2015 1:29 am

    Such a good idea, I can’t bear what has been happening in Syria and how a solution doesn’t seem to be anywhere nearby…

  9. October 31, 2015 10:03 am

    I just gave this as a gift — absolutely beautiful book with so many delicious recipes. Need my own copy now to cook through this fall/winter. My heart breaks for the Syrians… So glad we can help in even these small ways.

  10. November 1, 2015 11:53 am

    Wonderful idea….

  11. ramblingtart permalink
    November 1, 2015 3:15 pm

    What a beautiful and loving idea. I hope that many, many pots of soup are produced through the proceeds of this book.

  12. November 2, 2015 7:47 pm

    I really want this cookbook! such a wonderful thing & I’m so, so happy it’s such a success.

  13. November 3, 2015 9:36 am

    What a lovely idea, must get a copy!!

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