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The most important gift you’ll give this year: Soup for Syria

The little tin of Aleppo pepper in my spice cabinet makes me heartsick. Aleppo pepper is made of the dried and crushed pods of Capsicum annuum, which grows in Syria and Turkey. It has a warm, smoky and almost tangy flavor, complex but friendly. When I see it lately, it reminds me of everything laid to waste in that great city, its rich cultural history and its people.

As you’ve seen in the news and probably in your Facebook feed, the people of Aleppo (and elsewhere in Syria) are suffering a horrific crisis. Homes are being bombed and families torn apart, displaced, herded, trapped. Basically these people are screwed. They are homeless, injured, in pain, cold — winter is here, they’re unsure where to turn next, hopeless. Most feel the world has turned away.

I can’t turn away. I won’t.

At a time of year when we celebrate our abundance with gifts, when we remember a family traveling alone, in crisis somewhere in the Middle East, we live our values best when we give to those most in need. So in that spirit, cookbook writer and photographer Barbara Massaad created a cookbook to benefit the Syrian refugees, Soup for Syria.

The book includes recipes by Alice Waters, Anthony Bourdain, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mark Bittman, Claudia Roden and more.

So far, the book has collected $300,000, which helps support several charities working on the frontlines of the crisis, running hospitals and refugee camps. By buying this cookbook, you are supporting comfort for your table and for people on the other side of the world. What could possibly be more wonderful?

It’s one way you can help. You can also make a direct donation to a number of organizations involved in rescue and relief efforts, including the White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the International Red Cross.

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