The bread bowl is by far the tastiest way to enjoy thicker soups, stews, dips and chilis. It's perfect as an appetizer, or as part of the main course. Not only are bread bowls very simple to make, they show your diners that you've taken care and presented them with something they don't normally see.
A bread bowl is simply a bowl made out of bread. Don't worry, you don't have to do anything silly like tape slices of white bread together. Just run out to the store, you might need to head out to a bakery rather than the local grocers, and find a good sized loaf. The size needed will vary depending on what you want to do. If you want to serve stew to your family you might want smaller breadbowls, a few inches deep and a few more wider. If you're serving dip at a party, go for the largest honking loaf of bread you can find! Remember the purpose of this bread bowl, you're not going to want a soft loaf of bread if you're serving soup or stew, as it will end up soggy and messy. Pumpernickel, corn rye and sour dough are all excellent bread types for bread bowls. From personal experience, I recommend the sour dough, although it depends on what will match what goes into the bread bowl.
Now that we have our loaf, we'll need to slice it and scoop out the bready insides to form our bowl. Start by cutting off the top of the loaf. Make the cut about an inch or two from the top of the loaf. This height can by all means vary. Now that our bread is topless, you can scoop out the soft insides. I recommend keeping a wall of atleast an inch around the bread, maybe more if you're using it for soup or a thin stew. Also, be sure to keep some break near the bottom of the bowl, you wouldn't want your soup to drain out while your eating it. If you're using the bowl to hold dip, cut up the scooped-out bread and use that for dipping. If not, serve plain, or butter the bread and add some herbs before toasting, to spice it up a bit.
I don't recommend cooking, mixing or stirring anything in the bread bowl. Only add the end product to the bowl before serving. I also recommend adding the tops that were sliced off in the beginning to slightly cover the bowls, as it adds to the presentation of the bread bowl. The bread bowl can be used for just about anything, and is great for any occasion. And yes, you can eat the bowl when you're done.
spiregrain: this is all well and good, but does it leak?
The simple answer is yes, given enough time, the bread bowl will leak. If it was improperly cut, maybe with a small hole in the bottom, or not enough surrounding bread, the bowl can leak. However, a bread browl will not leak as I have specified it, at least I hope it doesn't! The crust of the bread provides the real barrier against leakage, whereas the soft bread acts as a retardant. I have personally eaten from many bread bowls, they're on the menu at Camp III midway up Loon Mountain and none of them have leaked.