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Minestrone della Nonna: a closer look at the illustration process

After my month long trip in Italy what better to write & draw about than my grandmother’s century old recipe that boosts your immune system and reduces food waste! 

I have such vivid memories of my grandmother preparing minestrone on long summer afternoons. My grandfather would come up from his vegetable garden with a basket full of harvest and she would sort through it, choosing the fresh zucchini and celery to add to the soup. We would sit at her dining table and chat while she cut up all the ingredients. Minestrone is one of those recipes that passes on from generation to generation, or so it seems. This nutrient packed soup is prepared to reduce food waste, as the ingredients used depend on what you have available. Often times that includes potatoes, onions and zucchini. But before I share the full recipe let me share with you the process behind the illustration.

On my flight back to Ghana, I couldn’t help but feel sad that I did not create any new art during my trip, so I took out my little sketch book and sketched out a few ideas.

In these sketches you will notice that the main focus was on the vegetables, but then I thought about how easy the recipe is as you just ‘throw everything in a pot’ so I decided to illustrate that concept. I took the sketch into procreate and started reworking it a bit. Once I found the overall composition I was happy with, I went in with some colour. I was leaning towards creating a very earthy and neutral colour palette but when I finished with it I felt that it wasn’t my style, as all my illustrations are more colourful. I therefore decided to duplicate the file and play around with the colours a bit more, until I got the final result I was happy with.

 

I wanted to make the illustration feel more fun and personal so I added the text at the bottom as well as the fun border around it. I felt these two components really made this artwork look complete.

It was such a fun process to create an illustration based on a recipe and I can’t wait to see what food illustration I will work on next!

I would love for you to try out this delicious recipe and tell me what you thought! Here are the ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • any and all vegetables you have at hand ( feel free to add what you like). The idea is to put an even amount of each vegetable, if not it will end up tasting more like the extra veggie you put (ex: more carrot will make it sweeter)

The base is quite simple, but you can play around with the flavours by adding any vegetables or scraps you have at hand

FOR THE BASE

  • salt and pepper
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 broccoli stem (this is the vegetable scrap I had at hand)

Wash your vegetables, cut them up medium sized pieces, put them in a pot and cover with water. Let them simmer on low heat for 2/3 hours. Add a bit of water if you see it is getting too low. Once all the vegetables are hot, blend them in the pot to get a smooth consistency and serve them (preferably to your grandparents!) Side note: it tastes better if you add a bit of love!

Enjoy!

 

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