You've thought about Thanksgiving for weeks, anticipating the turkey basted in its juices, the mashed potatoes swimming in butter, the stuffing hot from the bird, the gravy made from turkey stock, maybe even an old-fashioned apple pie with a homemade butter crust.

Then your college kid calls to say he's bringing home a friend who doesn't eat meat; or you learn that a cousin has converted to Buddhism and is on a macrobiotic diet.

For reasons of health, heart, conscience or just taste, many Americans are forswearing meat. Some are ovo-lacto vegetarians (they eat eggs and dairy products); others are vegans (no animal products of any kind). As much as you welcome these guests to your holiday table, you're not about to ditch the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Before you desperately start seeking recipes for lentil loaf, consider that by modifying your menu just a bit, you may be able to satisfy all the hungry diners gathered at your table. You may even end up with some dishes for all guests and family that are lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber.

One easy solution: for soups and gravies substitute vegetable broth in any recipes calling for chicken broth or turkey broth. Mushroom broth makes a good replacement for beef broth since its meaty taste gives the same depth as the meat-based broth. Both are easily homemade in advance or available in cartons or cans. If you use canned broth, remember to decrease the amount of salt in your recipe.

If your guests don't eat meat but do eat eggs and milk, there is probably not much more you'll need to change. But if you have a vegan at the table, you may want to include soy products such as soy milk, soy-based margarine products or soy mayonnaise in some recipes for side dishes. Olive or canola oils may work in place of butter as well.

Consider the mashed potato, a Thanksgiving staple. You can use vegetable stock instead of butter and milk; while the texture is not as creamy, the taste is quite good. Pies calling for lard will work just as well if solid vegetable shortening is substituted.

One last bit of advice: Let your vegetarian guests know which of your traditional dishes you have changed to accommodate them. Then add one of these special vegetarian dishes. Chances are it will be back by popular demand next year.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

(6 servings)

This soothing autumn soup was modified from a recipe in "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing, 1985).

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger root

3 cloves garlic, minced

7 cups vegetable stock or broth (preferably low-sodium)

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch curry powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Snipped chives or chopped parsley (optional garnish)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.

Add the stock or broth, wine and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Carefully transfer the soup in batches to a blender or food processor and puree. Transfer to a serving bowl, season with lemon juice, curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chives or parsley, if desired. Serve the soup hot or chilled.

Per serving using canned vegetable broth: 218 calories, 4 gm protein, 18 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 8 gm saturated fat, 1,250 mg sodium , 4 gm dietary fiber

Curried Squash or Pumpkin

(6 servings)

This is sure to please even the most diehard squash loathers. From "A Spoonful of Ginger" by Nina Simonds (Knopf, $30).

1 1/2 pounds acorn squash or pumpkin

1 1/2 teaspoons canola or corn oil

1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (may substitute brown or yellow mustard seeds)

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

3 tablespoons grated coconut (optional garnish)

Cut the pumpkin or squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut into wedges, remove and discard the peel and cut the flesh into 1 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

In an oven-proof casserole dish or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook just until softened. Increase the heat to medium, add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric and stir-fry until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the squash, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add the brown sugar and coconut, if desired, and cook, uncovered, until the squash is tender and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 20 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 63 calories, 1 gm protein, 12 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace saturated fat, 393 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Ragout of Wild Mushrooms

(4 to 6 servings)

Serve this mushroom ragout over rice, alongside polenta or as the topping for pasta or a baked potato. From "The Occasional Vegetarian" by Karen Lee (Warner, 1998).

2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms

1/2 cup cold water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots (4 to 6 shallots)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 1/4 cups assorted fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, portobello, cremini and button, cut into 1-inch dice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup diced plum tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato sauce, preferably homemade

1/2 cup red wine

1 teaspoon porcini powder (optional)*

In a small bowl, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with the cold water. Set aside until the mushrooms are softened, about 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze any remaining water from the mushrooms into the reserved liquid and then strain it; set aside. Coarsely chop the mushrooms; set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Cook the shallots until they soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fresh and reconstituted mushrooms along with the salt, pepper, thyme, tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, porcini soaking water and porcini powder, if using. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the mushrooms are softened, 10 to 15 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, uncover the pan and simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Serve immediately. (The ragout may be prepared, covered and refrigerated overnight.)

* Note: Porcini powder can be made by grinding the bits from the bottom of the bag of dried porcini in a coffee mill or food processor. It will keep for up to 1 year in a tightly sealed glass jar.

Per serving (based on 6): 86 calories, 4 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 3 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Hashed Brussels Sprouts

With Fresh Oregano

(4 servings)

This dish erases all--well, almost all--childhood memories of overcooked, bitter Brussels sprouts. From "The Occasional Vegetarian" by Karen Lee (Warner, 1998).

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups (1 pint) Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons white wine

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil for 1 minute. Add the Brussels sprouts and garlic and cook until the sprouts begin to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the wine and lemon juice and cook, partially covered, until the sprouts are easily pierced with a fork but not soft, about 3 minutes. Add the oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot or warm.

Per serving: 105 calories, 3 gm protein, 10 gm carbohydrates, 6 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace saturated fat, 154 mg sodium, 4 gm dietary fiber

Winter Greens With Currants, Pine Nuts and Brown Butter

(4 servings)

This flavorful stir-fry with a hint of sweetness is a respite from tired old greens. From "Fields of Greens" by Annie Somerville (Bantam, 1993).

1 tablespoon dried currants

1/4 cup hot water

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cups red or green chard leaves, stems removed and thinly sliced, leaves cut into 2- to 3-inch strips

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 cups kale leaves, stems removed, leaves cut into 2- to 3-inch strips

2 to 3 tablespoons brown butter (recipe follows)

6 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, stems removed

1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

In a small bowl, cover the currants with the hot water. Set aside until the currants are softened.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add 3/4 cup of the sliced chard stems along with the garlic, water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the kale and cook, using metal tongs to toss constantly, for 1 minute. Add the chard leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste; increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the kale and chard are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. (The pan will be nearly overflowing when you first add the kale, but the greens will quickly cook down.)

Reduce the heat and add the brown butter, spinach, drained currants and pine nuts; cook until the spinach is just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with the pan juices.

Per serving: 118 calories, 3 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 231 mg sodium, 5 gm dietary fiber

Brown Butter

(Makes 1/4 cup)

The French refer to brown butter as beurre noisette, or hazelnut butter, for its nutty aroma and dark color. Serve it with vegetables or on fish.

1/2 pound unsalted butter

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. As the butter gently simmers, the butterfat and milk solids will separate from each other. The solids will settle to the bottom of the pan, coloring the butter as it cooks.

Cook until the butter changes from golden to a light amber color, 10 to 12 minutes. Some of the milk solids will be brown. Remove from the heat.

Line a fine mesh strainer with a paper towel or cheesecloth and pour the butter through it. Discard the solids.

Butter prepared in this manner may be cooled, transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 8 months.