Soup For Syria

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By Mary Reilly, photographs by Barbara Adbeni Massaad, courtesy Interlink Publishing

Soup. Simply 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 Lebanon resident and author Barbara Abdeni Massaad wanted to do something to aid the Syrian families in the refugee camp near her home, 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 proceeds from the book’s sale go the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR.

White Turnip and Hazelnut Soup

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by Ana Sortun, Oleana Restaurant

Make sure you select a white, creamy, sweet turnip for this soup. I like to use the Hakurei turnip or Macomber turnip for this recipe, but cauliflower is a great substitute. Serves 4–6.

  • 4 cups (500 grams) peeled and cubed sweet white turnip (Hakurei or Macomber)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, outer leaves and core removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek (white part only), roughly chopped and cleaned
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (60 grams) hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skins removed, plus about 12 reserved for garnish
  • 5 cups (1.25 liters) rich chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ cup (125 grams) almond milk or milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced chives or scallions
  • 2 tablespoons brown butter, for drizzling over the top (optional)
  • Sumac, for sprinkling over the top (optional)

Place the vegetables in a large soup pot with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and stir to coat them. Cook them gently over medium heat until they begin to soften but don’t brown.

Stir in the hazelnuts (reserve a small amount for garnish) and add the broth. Simmer the soup until the vegetables are completely soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Allow the soup to cool.

In a blender or food processor, blend the soup with the honey and milk. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Reheat gently and ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl with some minced chives or scallions, a teaspoon of brown butter, a sprinkle of sumac, and some slightly crushed hazelnuts.

Mary Reilly

Mary Reilly is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Edible Pioneer Valley. She is a local leader for the Chefs Collaborative Western MA chapter, and a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier and the IACP. In a past life she was the chef-owner of Enzo Restaurant & Bar. When not writing, editing, or engaged in supersecret publisher activity, she can be found experimenting in her kitchen.