Easter and Anzac Day are behind us. Can winter be far ahead? Well, there's one thing that makes the cold weather bearable, and that's a steaming hot mug of soup

You can always make soup in a  mug from a packet. Some brands aren't so bad, but no packet soup will ever be as good as something you make yourself. But believe it or not, cooking soup at work isn't as hard as you might think.

All you need is a mug, a microwave and a little forward planning.

Most standard, microwave safe mugs hold approximately 250ml of liquid. Probably you want about six to eight tablespoons (120-160ml) of dry ingredients, then fill the cup with water and cook for 2 1/2 to three minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. It's a good idea to watch carefully the first time you do this, to prevent it from boiling over.

What ingredients should you use? Well, that's up to you! It's okay to use pre-cooked ingredients -- especially where meat is involved, as undercooked meat can be a health hazard. You don't want to cook the soup too long in case it boils over, so you're really just warming up the solid ingredients. A good source of ingredients is simple leftovers from home. Simply cook a little extra at dinner and cut them up fairly small. Put all of your ingredients in a small Tupperware, and store it in your workplace fridge until lunchtime.

A good starting recipe is

  • 3 tablespoons of cooked chicken cut small
  • Half a carrot, sliced very thin
  • Two tablespoons of potato, either pre-cooked or diced very small
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder
  • salt, pepper and herbs to taste

Simply put ingredients in a mug and microwave for 150-180 seconds, stirring now and then. For an interesting variant, add 1-2 teaspoons of cornflour for a thicker soup, or some pre-cooked noodles.

Other Ideas

But this is just the beginning. The soups you can make in a mug are really only limited by your imagination. Don't like chicken? Try some pre-cooked bacon and mushrooms in beef stock. Vegetarian? Why not some chopped leek, a little garlic and some cooked quinoa for a healthy snack. Soup in a mug is a simple idea with a lot of options.