Especially in the bitter cold of winter, there is nothing more comforting than a steamy bowl of soup. The only conceivable way to elevate it is by making the bowl itself edible. A popular option at restaurant chains such as Panera Bread, a bread bowl is, quite literally, a bowl made out of bread. When its hollowed center is filled with hot soup, the spongy contents of the bread bowl absorb and melt into the broth, creating an irresistibly hearty bread stew.
An issue that a home cook may encounter is bread bowls becoming too soggy too quickly. To avoid this sad fate, toasting your bread bowl is an easy preventative measure. Above all, a bread bowl's main job is to hold its soupy contents. If the bread bowl is not sturdy enough, the soup can soak through and create a soggy mishmash of soup and bread, so toasting the bowl beforehand is a worthy extra step.
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Why Toasting Is The Best Bread Bowl Technique
Part of the appeal of bread bowls is the gradual disintegration of the bread into the soup; the key word here is "gradual." If the bread is too soft from the start, it will become soggy the moment you introduce your filling of choice into it. When bread is toasted, most of its moisture evaporates, making it drier, harder, and more durable — in other words, it's far more likely to hold up when filled with that piping hot lemon chicken orzo soup you just made.
To toast your bread bowl, all you need to do is slather the hollowed-out loaf with some olive oil (or another oil of your choice with a high smoke point) and toss it in the oven for a few minutes. The result: a warm, steamy bread bowl with a golden-brown toasty finish. To make the most of the freshly-toasted bread bowl, be sure to serve it with your soup right away.
Bread Bowls Can Bear More Than Just Soups
Although bread bowls are the perfect serving dish for soups or stews, their potential uses extend much further. For instance, you can fill a bread bowl with dip, like smooth hummus or creamy spinach artichoke dip, and serve it alongside crudités. Or, to elevate a bread bowl appetizer spread, you can even make croutons out of the bowl's scooped-out contents and offer them as dipping vessels. Just cut up the chunk of bread into cubes, drizzle some oil on top, and toast them along with the bread bowl. The whole spread will have a rustic appeal, and will surely keep party guests glued to the snack table.
You can even use bread bowls in desserts. A bread bowl makes an easy stand-in for a traditional pie crust if you load it up with cobbler or pie filling and heat it in the oven. You can also fill it with chocolate fondue sauce and serve it with all the classic fondue dippers, like sliced fruit, pretzels, and marshmallows.
The simplicity of the bread bowl makes it as versatile as you wish. No matter how you use a bread bowl, toasting it beforehand will always serve you well.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.