A sourdough bread bowl is a serving vessel made from baked sourdough that is filled with either salad, a dip, or a thick soup or stew. The technique used to make a sourdough bread bowl varies by the type of foodstuff that fills it. The purpose of the sourdough bread bowl is to provide bread along with a salad, soup, or dip in a clever and creative way. In addition, the food or salad dressing seasons and flavors the sourdough bread, which can make the bread even more palatable. Bread bowls are typically an American dish and are usually served in restaurants rather than homes, in part due to the complexity of preparing the bread bowls.
Sourdough bread is bread made from a dough impregnated with a fermented starter. This typically produces a very sturdy bread with a distinctive yet sour taste. As sourdough bread is quite sturdy and absorbent, many people use sourdough to produce bread bowls. It should be noted that not all bread bowls are made from sourdough; for example, many bread bowls used to contain spinach dip are made from a very sweet Hawaiian-style bread. While bread bowls are considered to be a fun and delicious way to serve salads, some have noted that these edible bowls can add a significant number of calories and carbohydrates to meals.
There are two main approaches to making a sourdough bread bowl. The first is to bake a round loaf of bread and then cut out a round plug from the top of the bread after it's cooled. A soup, chili, or stew is then ladled into the newly constructed bread bowl. The bread plug is typically also served with the filled sourdough bread bowl. This bread bowl construction is also used for dips, and guests usually tear up the bread plug and dip pieces of bread into the dip. As the dip is consumed, guests can also tear the top part of the bread bowl into pieces to consume the rest of the bread and dip.
Another option is to make a sourdough bread bowl by lining an oven-safe bowl with bread dough, which essentially makes bowls out of the sourdough bread. These hard, crusty bowls are usually not thick enough to hold liquid but work well for salads. Instead of consuming bread, croutons, or bread sticks with a salad, diners can break off bits of the sourdough bread bowl to consume along with the salad.