After watching a news program about the plight of Syrian refugees while sitting in her apartment in the suburbs of Beirut, cookbook writer and photographer Barbara Massaad was inspired to visit a refugee camp.
“I just wanted to go and see what was happening,” she told NPR. “So I went and started taking photographs and talking to people about food.”
A mother of three, Massaad said she was touched by the Syrian children she met while visiting the camp. After her visit she wanted to raise awareness so, working off of her previously successful books, she started brainstorming a cookbook based on Syrian cuisine.
“Then the idea struck: a cookbook — to benefit refugees — devoted entirely to soup,” writes NPR Art’s Desk reporter Neda Ulaby.
Massaad curated an all-star lineup of culinary celebrities to help her with the project.
“Readers will find various soup recipes that range from Armenian Cabbage to Iranian pomegranate to Portuguese chickpea to Turkish black-eyed pea with lamb and noodles,” Ulaby writes. “They might sound exotic, but Massaad wanted the recipes in Soup for Syria to be easy-to-make and accessible, in terms of price. Soup is universal comfort food, says Massad. It bridges cultures.”
“It’s special, soup,” Massaad says.