2/3 cup finely diced firm white bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh fennel
6 ounces oyster mushrooms (available in supermarkets)
1/4 cup Pernod or Ricard
30 shucked oysters with their liquor
1 cup (approximately) clam juice or water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh fennel tops
Lightly brown bread cubes in toaster oven or dry skillet. Set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan, add onion and fennel and sauté over medium heat until tender and golden. Add mushrooms and saute two to three minutes longer. Stir in the Pernod.
Drain the oysters, reserving the liquor. Measure the liquor and add enough clam juice or water to make two cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the mixture in the saucepan.
Add the cream to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the oysters to the saucepan and simmer just until they begin to curl around the edges. Remove from the heat and divide among four shallow soup plates.
Sprinkle with the croutons and fennel tops and serve at once.