Saturn is the planet that enticed Astro-girl deeper into the world of astronomy. Whilst researching a famous Scot for a primary school project, she discovered James Clerk Maxwell had calculated mathematically that Saturn’s Rings were made of pieces of debris rather than being a solid mass.
The revelation that things could be explained with maths opened her mind to a universe of possibilities; astronomy was no longer solely about looking at stars!
The first time we saw Saturn’s rings for ourselves we were lying on our front grass with the telescope at a weird angle trying to view the planet as it traversed between the houses opposite, on the first clear night for weeks!
I should add that it was at some unearthly hour of the night and we woke Astro-girl and Astro-boy up to come out in their pyjamas, startling the late night dog walkers in the process!
It was worth it to see the ‘disc with ears’.
We have seen it many times since, including a magnificent view one night at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, watching as the planet sank into the Irish Sea.
Saturn soup is a good winter lunch, or perhaps a starter for an astro dinner party.
You could, of course, serve it in flasks or mugs in the garden with the ‘Saturn’ muffins on the side.
For the Saturn Muffins:
125g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
100g carrot, peeled and grated
100g sweet potato, peeled and grated
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
50g grated parmesan cheese
100ml oil (vegetable, sunflower, or olive)
For the Soup rings:
1kg parsnips, peeled and chopped
½ a leek (the white half) chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 stock cubes (chicken or vegetable)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan and cream to serve
To make the muffins…
Mix together the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, parmesan and vegetables.
In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the eggs, oil and milk.
Wet and dry
Stir the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and then spoon into 12 muffin cases.
You don’t need paper cases to serve these so if you have silicone muffin cases these are ideal; if not grease your muffin tins well or use the paper cases and remove before serving.
Bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes.
When cooked they will be an orangey ‘Saturn’ colour and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
They are best served warm and can easily be reheated for a few minutes in the oven.
To make the soup…
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and then simmer until all the vegetables are soft, approximately half an hour.
Allow to cool so that you don’t burn yourself while blending.
Remove the bay leaf.
Blend the soup until it is smooth, I used my liquidiser but you can use a hand blender or even a potato masher if you don’t have one.
Reheat the soup and the muffins.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and place a muffin in the centre of each.
Drizzle cream circles around the muffin to mark the rings.
You may find it easier to pour the cream into a disposable piping bag and make a small hole.
Sprinkle with grated parmesan and small chunks of cheese to represent the larger debris and moons that sit within the ring system – you see moons can be made of cheese!
Don’t fancy parsnip soup?
Astro-boy and I quite like the sweetness of it but Astro-dad and Astro-girl are less keen!
You can make leek and potato by substituting potatoes for the parsnips and use the white part of three leeks.
Alternatively use any shop-bought soup that is pale in colour.
A tin of cream of chicken works well.