2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 medium bay leaf
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup ditalini, tubettini, or other small pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)
Grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, for garnish
Place the beans in a large saucepan, fill it with about 5 cups of heavily salted water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the beans are tender all the way through, about 2 hours. Reserve 4 cups of the bean-cooking liquid. Drain the beans and reserve.
Heat the butter and measured oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the butter foams, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the potato, celery, carrot, and bay leaf and stir to coat. Cook until the celery is just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, season with salt and pepper, stir (scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan), and cook until the juices are almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes.
Add half of the green beans, half of the zucchini, half of the peas, and the broth and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini just begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved beans and bean-cooking liquid; the remaining green beans, zucchini, and peas; the pasta; and half of the parsley and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining parsley, taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. To serve, place the soup in bowls, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with the grated cheese, and season with pepper.
Beverage pairing:Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella, Italy. This soup has a wonderful medley of textures, so it’s nice to pair it with something smooth and easy that won’t get in the way. With its beans and root vegetables, minestrone is earthy in flavor, making it a good match for something of contrast, hence this simple but lovely Valpolicella. Made with a blend of grapes from Italy’s eastern coast, it has clear notes of cherry and plum and a light, soft finish.