the quickest, easiest way to make a hot meal without a kitchen

chickpea kettle soup

So what is the quickest, easiest way to get a hot meal without a kitchen?

You guessed it! It’s cooking with your kettle. Or whatever source of boiling water you have at your disposal.

When I told my Irishman I’d had this great idea about cooking with our kettle, I got a funny look.

‘You’re what?’

After reassuring him that I wasn’t going to actually put anything in the kettle except for water. And that his Barry’s tea would still taste exactly the same. He looked a little more interested. But not exactly excited.

Now, I’m happy to report that his doubts are all gone. We’ve both grown quite fond of our ‘kettle meals’.

So today I wanted to share with you a few ideas for this super quick and easy method of cooking when you don’t have access to a proper kitchen.

why cook with your kettle?

1. It’s quick.

2. It’s super easy to clean up after. Just your eating container and utensils.

3. It’s delicious.

4. It’s perfect for when you feel like a warm meal, but don’t have access to a proper kitchen.

Situations like:
– work lunches
– in hotels – when you’re sick of eating out and room service
– when you’re flying – just ask for a cup of hot water
– backpacking
– camping

don’t have a kettle?

You don’t actually need a kettle as such. It’s just about having a source of boiling water.

This could be boiling a pot on the stove. One of those continuous hot water thingys you often get in offices. Or even filling a thermos with hot water to take with you. (Wish I’d thought of that the bitter Winter I spent pruning vines in the Barossa Valley)

how does it work?

Too easy really. 3 simple steps.

1. Just pop your food in a heat proof container, preferably with a lid.

2. Cover with boiling water from the kettle or wherever. Pop the lid on (or you could just cover it with foil).

3. Wait a few minutes & your hot meal is ready!

which foods work well in ‘kettle soups’?

Basically anything that doesn’t require much heat to cook it.

I like to use a combination of the following:

1. a mix of fresh veg, chopped finely so they heat up quicker.

2. something more substantial like chickpeas, couscous, canned lentils or noodles, cooked chicken, canned tuna, salami or chorizo.

3. seasonings for the ‘soup’. Soy sauce is a fav. You could also try spices, bullion powder, stock cubes, curry powder, curry pastes, miso, ketchup, tomato paste, pesto.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve tried eggs. They didn’t get enough heat to cook them. Leave it with me though…

looking for more quick cooking ideas?

The Super Quick Cooking class at The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School could be just the thing for you!

From 18th Feb we’ll be focusing on speedy techniques such as kettle cooking, stir frying and ‘assembling’. As well as looking at time tricks to help make you faster in the kitchen.

More details over here:

chickpea kettle soup

chickpea kettle soup
serves 2
Inspired by the noodle hot pot in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday.

If you only need one serve, you could halve the recipe. Or make both portions since the second one will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Feel free to use this recipe as a basic guide and explore different vegetables, seasonings and legumes.

1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
1/2 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely sliced
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, sliced
2-4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Boil the kettle.

2. Divide chickpeas, vegetables, coriander and soy between 2 heatproof containers, preferably with lids.

3. Fill your containers with boiling water. Top with the lids and stand for 2 minutes, or longer if you prefer your veg less crunchy.

4. Taste & adjust seasoning if necessary.

noodle soup – replace the chickpeas with dried rice noodles, fine egg noodles or mung bean (cellophane) noodles.

pasta soup – replace the chickpeas with fresh pasta

different veg – pretty much anything that you’re happy to eat a little crunchy will work – carrots, zucchini (courgettes), baby spinach, broccoli, corn, tomato.. endless possibilities.

curry soup – replace the ground coriander with curry powder.

soy-free – use some vegetable or chicken bullion powder or 1/4 stock cube instead of the soy sauce.

carnivore – add in a few handfuls of finely sliced salami or chorizo or some cooked chicken.


video version of the recipe


recently on the stonesoup diaries

§ how to make your own curry powder
§ 5 ideas for zucchini flowers that don’t involve the deep fryer
§ the secret to the most divine chicken
§ soup love

With Love,
Jules x


  • Good one! But “Boil the kettle” sounds odd, maybe “Boil the water” or “Put the kettle to the boil”?

  • Cooking eggs in the kettle is how I always do it now, although yeah, they won’t cook with just boiling water. I find covering them with cold water, bringing to a rapid boil, then letting sit in the hot water for about 7 minutes cooks them beautifully. You do have to experiment a bit though depending on the size of your eggs and how you like your yolks, but otherwise it’s great because you don’t have to keep so much of an eye on them.

    Have yet to try you kettle soup idea, but it sounds great!

  • I really like this idea and plan on experimenting this week. One thing I’m going to try is using the Thermos to see if hardier things will cook, like dried red lentils, or carrots.

  • Sarah
    Great to hear you’re planning some experiments.. let us know how you get on with red lentils in the thermos?

    Ann Marie
    Interesting you find it odd.. I drink lots of tea so am always putting the kettle on to boil… and it gets abbreviated in my mind to ‘boil the kettle’…but now I think about it I see where you’re coming from :)

    Yes it’s perfect for work lunches!

  • For the soy free version you suggest “vegetable or chicken bullion powder or stock cube”. I read lots of labels and I seem to remember that some of these bullion powders or stock cubes contain soy protein isolate or other items that might be derived from soy or MSG in one of its many disguises. It’s best that one be careful when purchasing one’s ingredients.

    Keep up the good work. You are always coming up with good ideas.

  • Agreed with Zo, you could always try doing a japanese poached egg or onsen egg using a thermos. Boiling water into thermos, plonk egg in (carefully) cover, twenty minutes and voila! :)

  • I just tried this yesterday for lunch and it was great! I was concerned that it might not be filling enough to last me through the day, but I did just fine.

    I used chickpeas, 3 spoonfuls of pearl couscous, 1 spoonful of chicken boulion, 1 carrot sliced thinly, some broccoli, and 2 spears of asparagus. I started with the boiling water, but also had to put it in the microwave for 4 minutes because of the veggies I used. Added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and it was delicious!

    Thanks for another nutritious meal idea, Jules!

  • Thanks for this “no kitchen” meal idea :).

    My fellow soldiers and I live in Army barracks and do trust me when I say the food gets very tiresome, very fast. We have to improvise with a microwave, a fridge and a kettle when we want to “cook” ourselves, but my ideas are running out.

    Can we see more “no kitchen” meal ideas?

  • What a fabulous idea, I’m often stuck at work trying to find healthy lunch options. Might give this a go next week! The only thing I’m wondering about is the best way to make the soup tasty without being too salty, I use instant miso soup packets and reckon one of them added could be great!

  • This is really creative and great idea. Probably I will half cook the food if I am preparing these foods for traveling or camping. I can’t wait to know more of these speedy techniques of yours. :)

  • This brings back a lot of memories for me. When I was in college, I lived in the college hostel. The meals they provided were terrible and everyday we would resort to cooking in the kettle. By the way, we always cooked eggs in the kettle. Just put eggs and water in the kettle and switch it on. But be careful that the egg does not have even a tiny crack else you are in for a lot of messy water. Also, for cooking eggs in the kettle, it is a lot easier if the kettle does not have an exposed coil. We used to use the same method that you have described to cook oats porridge, instant noodles, etc.

  • I’ll certainly be giving this a try since I have some beans in the fridge that need using. Please tell me you didn’t throw out that beautiful broccoli stalk though!

  • This is such a great idea, thanks for sharing! My Mister and I are flying cross country next week and I think I’ll give this a try for the flight.

  • On my blog I have a recipe for a vegetarian soup with chickpeas.
    I love the idea of making soup in a container! So smart :)

  • Hi Jules – this is a brilliant idea – had my first go today for lunch at work using what I had in the house this morning. Red kidney beans, orange and purple carrots and cavallo negro – delicious! Note to self – should have cut the carrots smaller – but will know for next time!

  • I’ve been looking forward to trying this for a while (despite the fact that our office kitchen has a microwave so I generally just warm up soups that I bring in), and today I finally tried it: finely sliced cabbage, mushrooms, spring (salad) onions, fresh coriander and tofu… with a sachet of miso. totally delicious! I may never bother to make an ‘actual’ soup again… thanks, Jules!

  • Thanks for all the great ideas! May I ask, what kind of knife do you use? I’m in the market for a new all purpose kitchen knife….

  • Situation where you will need just one cup
    of hot water:. The halftime show is a huge production,
    in which fans in the stadium often play a part, and which rivals a concert at just about any
    other venue. I don’t mean that she shopped at little foodie boutiques and high end stores, but she got the best quality for the best prices she could find.

  • I haven’t read other comments yet but you could poach a couple of eggs and have them in a container in fridge them before work pop them in your Kettle container. They heat up in 30 sec of boiling water.
    Just make site you keep in work fridge til lunch

  • This is great thanks for the inspiration! Shouldn’t that last option read “omnivoire”?

  • I have cooked steamed eggs, rice, bass fillet and stew in my teakettle. The heating element is inside and raised, so I never want food to touch it. A mess to get clean. I sometimes use a strainer basket, or I sit a rack inside, put a coffee filter or paper towel to keep the holes clogged. The rack is one from ages ago that fit inside my crock pot for roasting meat.
    Sometimes I put in a large can of something, and let the heat of boiling water around the outside heat the food. I’m struggling with eggs. I’ll try using a soft flour tortilla to line the large can, and put the eggs in (no shell) and ‘steam’ them. It takes awhile till I get the hang of it.

  • I am always using my kettle for hot meals. I tell my son that you can boil a egg in a kettle, like you say easy cooking is better than wait hours on a cooker, unless it’s something like roasts or boiled potatoes. I love making foods with my kettle. I learned this when I was five years old and now I am 55 years old. Jackie.

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