A porcini mushroom (darker elements) and noodle soup served in a bread bowl
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A bread bowl is a round loaf of bread which has had a large portion of the middle cut out to create an edible bowl. They are typically larger than a roll but smaller than a full sized loaf of bread. Bread bowls can be used to serve salads, chili, New England-style clam chowder, and other thick stews (often, but not always, with a cheese or cream base). Soups with thinner bases are not generally served in bread bowls, as the broth would make the bread get too soggy too quickly. The bread becomes flavored as it absorbs some of the stew's base, and can be eaten after the stew has been eaten. Meals served in bread bowls can be found at some restaurants, such as the Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, Panera Bread, Hearth 'n Kettle, Quizno's, Au Bon Pain, Domino's Pizza, and vendors at some Renaissance Faires. It is also good to use for dips, using the scooped out bread for dipping.
Use of a bread bowl can add considerably to a soup's calorie count. Calorie counts posted at Au Bon Pain, for example, state that the bread bowl contains 620 calories in addition to those in the soup itself.
This line about Bread bowls being little known in England is utter nonsense. Dating back to well into the Medieval times (Somewhere around 700-1000AD, hollowing out an old, stale loaf, usually from yesterday's bake, filling with food and serving was common practice. This hollowed out loaf was known as a Trencher, from the French word 'Tranchier' meaning to Cut open.
Coffin Lid (棺材板) is a Taiwanese variant developed in Tainan. It uses Texas Toast, preferably those cut from the soft loaves popular in East Asia, and deep frys the bread to crisp. A layer of crust is then cut away to expose the inside, which was then dug out, allowing stews to be placed in. The crust layer is then replaced on top of the stew.
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