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With a small, sharp knife, make an X on the flat face of each chestnut. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil and add the chestnuts. Boil for about 5 minutes, then drain. While the chestnuts are still hot, remove both the hard outer shell and the furry inner skin. Chop the chestnuts coarsely and set aside.
In a deep saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and fry gently, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and potato and stir well. Add the chestnuts stock and bay leaves and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 3/4 hours.
Add the rice and boil gently for exactly 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Remove and discard the bay leaves and pour the soup into a tureen. Serve immediately.
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