Union of Genius

Union of Genius
8 Forrest Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2QN
  • Telephone 0131 226 4436
  • Opening times Mon–Fri 8.30am–4pm; Sat noon–4pm.
  • Seasonal times Fringe: Mon–Fri 9am–9pm; Sat/Sun 11.00am–9pm.
  • Food served Mon–Fri 9am–4pm; Sat 11am–4pm. Closed Sun.
  • Website www.unionofgenius.com
Photo of Union of Genius
Union of Genius

Edinburgh’s premier soup café serves up comforting, wholesome soups for the lunchtime crowds, while also running social initiatives to help Edinburgh's homeless community.

Eating & Drinking Guide

The 2019/20 edition of The List's Eating & Drinking Guide is out now – only £5.95 (+p&p).

Beloved by students and local office workers, Union of Genius is a lunch spot with a conscience. Every month this cosy, unassuming eatery donates 150 litres of soup to the Bethany Trust for distribution among Edinburgh’s homeless community and customers can get involved too, by paying forward a bowl of soup or coffee that can be claimed later by someone in need. The menu changes daily but there are always vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, as well as a couple of chilli bowls and salads. The vegan chilli is a stand-out, made with bulgur wheat for a deceptively meaty texture and piled high with cheese and sour cream, while the incredible hulk soup made with broccoli, spinach, and mint is both fresh and hearty and served in a charming little crockpot. Delicious and socially aware, Union of Genius is the best place in Edinburgh to feed both stomach and soul.

The List's rating






Anahit Behrooz visited Union of Genius on 7 March 2019
  • High point: The pay-it-forward scheme
  • Low point: Some portions are on the smaller side
  • Notable dish: Soup!
  • Average price: £7 (lunch)

Union of Genius is Scotland's first soup café, providing six different home-made soups with matching artisan breads every day. The soup can be taken away or eaten in and all packaging is recycled and compostable.

Guaranteed minimum of one vegan soup every day and usually at least half of the soups are vegetarian or vegan. Nearly all soups are gluten-free (never thickened with flour or corn starch) and there are various gluten-free alternatives to bread available.

Also offered is coffee from Artisan Roast, gluten-free and vegan cakes from Love Pure Cakes, artisnal bread from Dough Re Mi, gourmet hot chocolates from Coco and Chocolate Tree and a wide-range of other snacks and drinks including bottled water from Belu Water which provides all profits to Water Aid. All packaging is compostable and recycled packaging and a recycling loyalty scheme is in operation that rewards customers for bringing back their packaging.

Text supplied by third party.

  • Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Children's portions, Wheelchair access, Outdoor tables, Free wi-fi
  • Music on stereo: Fun indie pop
  • Capacity: 18 (6 outdoors)
  • Open since: 2011

Reviews & features

Best cafés in Edinburgh

22 May 2019

From tea and coffee to cake and pastries, these Edinburgh hotspots do café culture right

Edinburgh's café scene continues to evolve and remains as vibrant as ever. These day-time foodies are often a source of real innovation, from coffee roasters to artisan bakers to scientists of salad, they push the boundaries of breakfast and lunch...

Halloween recipe: make your own Devilled Pumpkin Soup

15 Oct 2013

Elaine Mason, head soupmonger at Union of Genius, offers a warm way to spice up your autumn

I usually use Crown Prince pumpkins, or the little bright orange winter squash called Uchiki Kuri. If the only pumpkin you can find is the big ones people buy for carving, I'd suggest mixing that pumpkin with butternut squash 50:50 – those biggies have…

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, more advice).
URGENT: You must stay at home except for shopping for basic necessities, daily exercise, any medical need and travelling to and from essential work.