Cold weather meals calls for hearty hot pots and stews. These popular dishes provide a marvelous opportunity to provide great-tasting, economical, protein-rich fare without using large quantities of meat.

Because of the increasing consumer reliance on meat during the past decades, excellent protein sources have been ignored. Americans are being urged to rediscover such age-old alternatives to meat as dried beans, peas, lentils and grains. All these foodstuffs are high in protein, contain little or no saturated fat and cost less per edible pound than most meat products.

In hot pots and stews, it's easy to start combining these neglected protein sources with the more familiar ones. You can cut by half the amount of meat usually used, without sacrificing taste appeal. And you'll be enriching your family's diet at the same time.

Following is a selection of you may some and flavorful recipes yowant to try. Each dish features a small amount of meat, along with assorted legumes and grains. CHICKEN HOT POT (Serves 6)

1 (2-pound) broiler-fryer chicken 4 1/2 quarts water 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup dried navy (pea) beans, washed and sorted 2 large onions, coarsely chopped 1 cup kidney beans, washed and sorted 1/2 cup fine or medium pearl barley 1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 1 pound canned tomatoes 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced carrots 3/4 cup celery, coarsely diced 3/4 cup frozen green peas

In a large pot, place whole chicken, water, salt, and navy beans. Bring to a boil, cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer 30 minutes. Add onions and kidney beans to the pot. Stir, replace lid and cook 1 hour. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Add barley, basil, thyme, pepper and tomatoes to the pot. Stir well. Replace lid and simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally. While the mixture cooks, remove meat from chicken carcass, cutting into large chunks.

Add remaining ingredients, except chicken meat, to the pot. Stir well. Replace lid and cook over low heat 45 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add chicken meat and allow to heat through. Serve immediately in large bowls. LAMB AND BARLEY STEW (Serves 6 or 7) 2 lamb shanks (about 2 1/2 pounds) 3 1/2 to 4 quarts water 1 cup green split peas, washed and sorted 1/4 cup fine pearl barley 2 tablespoons dry parsley flakes Salt and pepper to taste 3 cups fresh sliced carrots 1 1/2 cups chopped celery 1 1/4 cups chopped onion

Ask butcher to crack shanks. In a large pot, place shanks, 3 1/2 quarts water, split peas, barley, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hours. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer 45 minutes longer. Remove shanks, cut meat into small pieces and return to pot. Skim fat from the stew, replenish pot liquid with 1 or 2 cups water if necessary, and reheat to boiling. Serve piping hot. MINESTRONE-BEEF HOT POT (Serves 6 or 7) 2 pounds shin beef with bone 1/2 cup dried navy beans, washed and sorted 5 quarts water 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 1/2 cup dried kidney beans, washed and sorted 2 cups chopped onion 1 clove garlic, minced 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced carrots 2 cups coarsely shredded cabbage 1 1/2 cups diced celery 1 1/2 cups diced zucchini 1 1/2 cups frozen green beans 1 cup broken-up spaghetti 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsely Grated parmesan cheese Dried basil

Place beef, navy beans, water, salt and pepper in a large pot. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Add kidney beans, onion, and garlic to the pot. Stir, replace lid and cook 2 hours longer. Remove shin bones from the pot, cool and cut meat from bones. Return meat to the pot, along with all remaining ingredients except cheese and basil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Serve immediately in large bowls, with grated cheese and a pinch of basil sprinkled over each. HEARTY HAM SOUP (Serves 6 or 7) 1 1/2-pound pork shoulder butt, cured 3 1/2 quarts water 2 cups raw potatoes, peeled and cubed 1/2 cup dried lentils, washed and sorted 3 cups cabbage, coarsely shredded 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced carrots 1 1/2 cups coarsely diced onion 1 cup coarsely diced celery, with leaves 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes 1 bay leaf 1 garlic clove 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram 1 can (1-pound) pinto beans, drained Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, combine pork butt and water and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer 1 hour. Add potatoes and lentils and cook 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add all remaining ingredients, except pinto beans and salt, and cook, covered, 30 minutes longer. Remove the pork butt, cool, and cut meat into cubes. Skim excess fat from the pot, combine meat and pinto beans with other ingredients, and reheat to boiling point. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately in large bowls.

HAMBURGER HOT POT (Serves 5 or 6) 1 pound ground beef 2 large onions, coarsely chopped 3 1/2 quarts water 1 1/4 cup dried kidney beans, washed and sorted 1 can (28-ounces) tomatoes 1/2 cup raw long grain white rice 1/4 cup celery with leaves, diced 1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced 1 teaspoon sugar 1 garlic clove, chopped 2 teaspoons chili powder 3/4 teaspoon caraway seed 1/2 teaspoon celery seed 1/4 teaspoon dried sweet basil 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cup canned corn, drained

In a large pot, place ground beef and onions.Cook over medium heat, stirring, until browned. Add water and kidney beans. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Add remaining ingredients, except corn, replace lid and simmer 30 minutes longer. Add corn, reheat to boiling, and serve in large bowls.