THE city’s first dedicated soup cafe serving up home-made broths made almost exclusively from locally sourced ingredients is set to open its doors on Monday.
Dreamed up by innovative owner Elaine Mason, the new Forrest Road eaterie, called Union of Genius, will provide a range of gourmet soups, artisan breads and specialist hot drinks, all assembled from premium food suppliers in the Capital – wherever possible – in a bid to reduce food miles.
To encourage recycling, a loyalty scheme offers points and free coffee for bringing back used packaging. All the food waste is being diverted from landfill and turned into renewable energy by Shanks.
Ms Mason said the concept was inspired by her passion for delicious soup and the burgeoning local food industry in the Capital.
“Instead of having soup languishing at the foot of a menu we are making it the star,” she said. “This is a first for Scotland, although there are a few soup cafes in London and Manchester which do really well.
“Edinburgh is bursting with incredible food suppliers and we are uniting the best this incredible foodie city has to offer, whilst reducing food miles.
“Our organic veggies are grown 25 miles away, our bread is made fresh every day in Polwarth, our coffee is roasted fresh every week in Edinburgh, and all our cakes, hot chocolates and artisan marshmallows are made by top Edinburgh foodies.”
Ms Mason spent months trialling her soup recipes on 16 enthusiastic taste-testers together with different breads as she tried to find the most tasty combinations. Six soups will be on offer at Union of Genius, with all produce sold in compostable packaging sourced from a firm in Polwarth. “I wanted to concentrate on soup and Edinburgh has made it possible to do that properly because it can offer everything, including the specialist breads and even the packaging.
“Clearly, it’s inevitable that some items have to be imported but the vast majority of things on our menu will be sourced locally. I’m a bit of a believer in keeping stuff out of landfill, adding to it is something I don’t do.”
Ms Mason accepted voluntary redundancy from her position as head of sales with the British Geology Survey, where she worked for ten years, to achieve her dream. “I felt the time was right so it was a now or never moment,” she said.