I hesitated in making this soup because white radish tends to stink up the whole kitchen when it is simmering. The stink, as one little girl admits, smells like very bad gas! But white radish or daikon makes good soups because the soups are very 'sweet'. When Cantonese use the word 'theemm' for soups, it doesn't mean they are sweet like sugary sweet. 'Theemm' is a single word which means a lot - it denotes deliciousness that's deeper; when Cantonese mention 'cheng theemm', it translates loosely as 'clear and delicious'.
Anyway, white radish or 'lor pak' (in Cantonese)is purportedly good for breastfeeding mothers. If you add dried cuttlefish to the white radish soup, it encourages lactation. The white radish is also good for clearing heat because of its cold nature. As such, the elderly should not take too much of this soup.
And if you are on medication or taking herbal tonics, you certainly do not want to drink this soup as white radish neutralises the efficacy of your tonics. It would be plain wasted. It's just like how we are cautioned NOT to drink Chinese tea after we take herbal tonics like 'pat chen cha' (Eight Herbs Tonic).
White radish, despite its cold nature, contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of potassium, folate and Vitamin C. It is also a good source of magnesium. You can read more about the health benefits of the humble white radish at http://www.vitacost.com/science/hn/Food_Guide/Radishes.htm
It is also rich in vitamins A, B, D, E and believed to help stimulate appetite, combat scurvy and rickets, treats asthma, liver and gallbladder troubles. It helps to soothe sore throats and expel phlegm besides aiding digestion.
In terms of cooking use, we Chinese tend to use white radish in soups and stirfries while in the West, it is mostly eaten raw in salads.
For White Radish Soup, you'll need 3 simple ingredients:
1 white radish (wash, peel skin and cut into fairly large chunks)
600gm pork ribs (blanched)
6-8 dried red dates (de-stoned)
Bring a pot of water to boil. Put in all ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Lower fire, put lid on pot and simmer for 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Note: You can add dried cuttlefish if you like and substitute pork ribs with chicken (skinned).