Contrary to what the rest of the country thinks, Southern California does get cold. Maybe not by Minnesota or North Dakota standards, but it gets cold enough. And when it does there's nothing better than a big bowl of piping hot soup to warm us up. Make that bowl out of bread and you've got this winter's newest culinary comeback.
This season bread bowls have been popping up all across Los Angeles; from the oceans to the valleys and many places in between. While the concept of the bread bowl is really a no brainer—just hack the center out of an over-sized hunk of bread—some dining establishments have taken the bread bowl to an artisan level. By these standards the bowl is considered just as important as what goes in it, especially if you're going to eat it. And if you and your stomach agree then you'll want to check out this list of the five places for the best bread bowls in L.A.
Hours: Mon to Fri 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat and Sun Closed
See other LA locations
If you want great tasting bread, you go to a bakery. So why not go to one for a bread bowl? The Corner Bakery Cafe does bread bowls right. Baked to golden brown perfection, the center is just the right amount of doughy pulp to complement whatever soup you choose to fill it with. But if you ask the employees, the consensus is to go for the broccoli and cheddar cheese.
Looking for another offbeat soup option? Check out the best hot pot restaurants in LA.
Hours: Mon-Sat 6:30 a.m.- 7:00 p.m.; Sunday 7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The origin of the bread bowl maybe Irish, but this Cuban bakery does the heritage proud. Delicious all by itself, this delightful bread bowl is the perfect accompaniment to all of Porto's homemade soups. Soups of the day include potato leek, white bean, chicken noodle, cream of mushroom and clam chowder.
Panera Bread Bakery
See all LA locations
Some people turn up their noses at the corporate cafe chain, but you have to hand it to them—they do bread bowls right. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, Panera Bread offers the largest variety of hearty soup to be served in a bread bowl. Choices include French onion, chicken noodle, garden vegetable, broccoli and cheddar cheese, vegetarian black bean, cream of chicken, baked potato, creamy tomato and of course, New England clam chowder.
Thinking about doing it yourself? Check out this amazing winter squash and pumpkin soup recipe.
Hours: Mon to Fri 11 a.m.- 2 a.m.; Sat to Sun 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
If you're looking for something with more substance than soup, you'll want to check out Timmy Nolan's in the valley. Here they serve their homemade Irish stew in a big sourdough bowl brimming with big chunks of beef, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Real men may not eat soup, but they definitely eat stew.
Hours: Mon to Thurs 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat 9 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun 9 a.m.-12 a.m.
One of Manhattan Beach's most popular seafood stops also has one of the best bread bowls in L.A. It would have to in order to serve their famous New England clam chowder or crab corn chowder inside it. To put these two hearty crustacean creations in anything less would be just plain wrong.
Need more of the bowl and less of the soup? Check out the best gluten free bakeries in Los Angeles.
Kristine G. Bottone is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at http://www.examiner.com/la-bartender-in-los-angeles/kristine-g-bottone
for more features.