One of the few favorite soups of mine, this has been one that shows up rather regularly on our dining table ever since I started in the kitchen. Making Chinese soup has always been something relatively easy needing little skill. Some past dining experiences or a little imagination with how and which ingredient will go well with what others will surely help a big deal however. That little bit plus I have in me has got to be attributed to the many years of my mom's home cooked food I have had growing up at home. Likewise, this has been one of mom's regular too. Over the years whenever we had this served as part of our meals, mom would naturally start reminding us of how this particular white radish soup works exceptionally well in cleansing and detoxifying our digestive system, just exactly what we needed every now and then. Where and when has she got this piece of information from, I have little idea really lol. But despite having not a fact check done on it ever, I have always loved this soup for how simply tasty and refreshing it is nonetheless.
While I have never really tried studying the nutritional values these radishes have in the past, I do find myself accepting the claim mom has always had more than alright. One thing that I have never failed to notice myself each time I happily dig into the mounts of white radish chunks in the soup will be how extensive the mesh of fine lines within the radishes is. These lines are made visible to the naked eyes and I supposed they do get more prominent the longer the get cooked, turning translucent. Whether they are the digestible or indigestible fiber or both, they must be the very contributors to whatever digestive system facilitation these radishes have on us. That aside, taking a brief look on the white radish introduction anywhere will reveal that they come packed with a considerable good amount of the immune booster we all need, the Vitamin C. Low in calories with virtually no cholesterol, they naturally present themselves as a very good dietary option for many.
Commonly boiled with the pork ribs, mom's version always comes with a handful of white peppercorns in a wire mesh - a little heat to balance the cooling nature white radishes have. This is definitely one particular addition that I have always accepted happily for the extra kick and spice coming from these peppercorns. With a touch of sweetness coming from the presence of red dates and an extra flavor coming from the dried oysters or the dried cuttlefish, they collectively make a hearty bowl of soup so comforting and nutritious anyone will easily appreciate on any days.
White Radish Soup 白萝卜汤
1 large white radish or 2 small/medium ones
3lbs pork ribs (I opted for the baby back ribs)
1 piece of dried cuttlefish (~50g), cut into bite-sized pieces
12 red dates, soaked to soften then seeds removed
3 tbsps whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
~6 L water
salt to taste
1. Wash the pork ribs trimming away excess fat and then chop them into smaller pieces. Blanch the ribs in a pot of boiling water in batches to remove the scum. Set the ribs aside.
2. Heat up about 6L of water in a large stock pot. While it takes its time to boil, work on getting the radish ready. Rinse, cut off the ends, peel the skin and cut them into fairly large chunks.
3. Once the pot of water is ready, transfer the ribs and the radishes into the pot. Add in the whole white peppercorns (preferably in a wire mesh or a spice bag) and the rest of the ingredients (minus the salt). Bring to a rapid boil.
4. Leave to boil for about 15 minutes on high. Cover, turn the heat down to low and let simmer away for optimally at least another four hours.
5. Right before serving, add in salt to taste.
The longer the soup is left to simmer, the better it will be infused with all the flavors coming from the different ingredients. The water level will drop slightly as the simmering goes on but additional water will be unnecessary unless the water content has really decreased considerably. I would maintain it around 4-5L. Should you need to add in more water into the pot, make sure you add in only hot boiling water to ensure that the simmering does not get disrupted with the water of a different temperature. Add in just slightly more than enough to cover the ingredients comfortably. Any more will have the soup diluted rendering it less flavorful. If you are left with enough leftovers from this for the next day or two (I always do! lol), you will be amazed with how much better they taste after a night out. Try adding in some noodles of your preferred choice while using this as your soup base; you will have a good meal in a snap of time!