Despite the façade of sunshine out the window, there lacks a persuasion of warmth to admit winter is over just yet. With this mantra I made my way to Forrest road’s Union of Genius to taste its promise of a plethora of steamy soups.
From the trio I chose the veggie chilli was a resounding winner. Under the blanket of jalapenos, sour cream and silky cheese, the dish boasted a thick consistency packed with smoky, spicy kicks in every spoonful. It had me questioning if I could get away with licking the cup.
Followed closely was the Afghan carrot, an aromatic number filled with an abundance of textures. The al dente yellow split peas were a welcome hit and hints of the cumin and cloves lingered on the tongue giving a warming finish.
Bringing up the rear was the incredible Hulk; a lean green machine. Much smoother than its companions, it was an institute of iron crammed with vegetables aplenty. It had a sweetness, owing to the addition of apple in the recipe and was enhanced by a cluster of crunchy croutons.
All the soups I had, and most served, are gluten free and dairy free. Also, on offer are a range of meat options; a board adorning the wall spoke of a lentil and bacon combo and the vegan chilli having a golden chicken companion too. Their lively menu changes daily from an inventory of hundreds of recipes.
Accompanying the steamy soups were a variety of loaves baked in Bruntsfield, fresh every day at Dough Re Mi. If the pun alone doesn’t delight you, then bank on the bread. From the four on offer I chose a dark, nutty poppy seed and a thick, chewy slice of onion bread. Alternatively, you can choose oatcakes as a dipping vessel for a gluten free option. Then a try of an espresso walnut brownie from Gluttony confirmed the Genius lies in their soup.
Pricewise, the filling flight of 3 soups came to £6.80 including the bread and chilli toppings. For a small bowl of soup, you’ll be paying £4.30 and 50p more to go large.
The incredible hulk is not the only green element of this cosy café: cargo bikes deliver all their wholesale by legs from Leith. Their takeaway packaging is all compostable and you can earn free soup by taking your own bowls and flasks.
Next time you’re in George Square (Open Mon-Fri 11am-2.30pm) introduce yourself to Dumbo, their trusty food truck. Each month, he transports 150 litres of soup to Bethany Christian Trust on a mission to feed Edinburgh’s rough sleepers. It’s unfortunate that such a service exists, but where there is care and soup there is hope.
Image: mightymightymatze via Flickr