Poached Oysters in Fennel-Saffron Soup

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, each cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
1 cup water 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
4 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
3 cups freshly shucked oysters

Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.

Add fennel and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup water; cover and cook until fennel is very tender, about 20 minutes
Puree fennel mixture in processor. Set aside.

eat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

Add garlic and saffron; sauté 1 minute.

Add clam juice, cream, and Pernod and bring to simmer.

Add fennel puree and bring to simmer.

(Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Simmer before continuing.)

Add oysters with their liquor to cream mixture and stir to heat through. Ladle soup into bowls.