Heat the oil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the fennel and onions, and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and Pernod and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Whisk in the cream, streaming it in slowly, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and puree the soup in batches in a food processor. Reheat if necessary.
Serve hot, allowing 1 cup of soup per person. Stir 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese into each serving. Lay a breadstick across each bowl and hang a fennel sprig from each breadstick, so it drapes into the soup.
Yield: 8 cups