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Bread bowls can be used to serve 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. Bread bowls are also used 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.
One of the traditional recipes that uses a bread bowl is Knorr Spinach dip made with their vegetable mix package. This classic recipe in a bread bowl is make with a round pumpernickel bread loaf.
"Coffin Lid" (Chinese: 棺材板; pinyin: guāncáibǎn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: koaⁿ-chhâ-pán) is a Taiwanese variant developed in Tainan. It uses Texas toast–preferably those cut from the soft loaves popular in East Asia–deep frying the bread to a crisp. A layer of crust is then cut away to expose the inside, which is then dug out, allowing stews to be placed in. The crust layer is then replaced on top of the stew.
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