One pot, great meal

Halloween falls smack dab in the middle of the week, which means trick-or-treating and school-night obligations collide.

Then, of course, there's dinner to fret about.

Let's turn to soup to take care of that worry:

• It's a one-pot meal.

• It can be made ahead of time.

• If you're clever about the soup you make, children will enjoy a healthy supper before filling up on candy.

If you add alphabet pasta, for instance -- maybe use only the letters for "Halloween" -- you'll at least get children curious.

Younger kids probably will find little to frighten them in the hamburger and rice recipe provided this week.

For older children and teens, a tortilla soup might be a great solution. The crunch of the tortillas is satisfying, and cheese and chicken is almost always a pleaser.

For the adults in your kitchen on Halloween night, try a more high-brow soup such as the Chinese vegetable chowder or the potato, tomato and basil soup recipe suggested here.

These recipes are not difficult to make, and you'll find most of the ingredients in your grocery store. The mushrooms for the chowder are available at Oriental groceries, or you can use the mixed packet of dried mushrooms we found at Publix.

The soup had a delicious, almost meaty taste and a satisfying crunchy texture highlighted by the water chestnuts and soy sauce.

These soups are different from your standard chili or vegetable soup -- though those always work great, too.